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cover next page > title: Paracelsus : Speculative Theory and the Crisis of the author: Early

title:

Paracelsus : Speculative Theory and the Crisis of the

author:

Early Reformation SUNY Series in Western Esoteric Traditions Weeks, Andrew.

publisher:

State University of New York Press

isbn10 | asin:

0791431479

print isbn13:

9780791431474

ebook isbn13:

9780585043418

language:

English

subject

Paracelsus,--1493-1541, Reformation--Europe, German- speaking, Renaissance--Europe, German-speaking, Europe, German-speaking--Intellectual life--16th century, Philosophy, Renaissance.

publication date:

1997

lcc:

B785.P24W35 1997eb

ddc:

199/.494

subject:

Paracelsus,--1493-1541, Reformation--Europe, German- speaking, Renaissance--Europe, German-speaking, Europe, German-speaking--Intellectual life--16th century, Philosophy, Renaissance.

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Paracelsus

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Paracelsus

Speculative Theory and the Crisis of the Early Reformation

Andrew Weeks

SUNY Series in Western Esoteric Traditions

David Appelbaum, Editor

STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK PRESS

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August Hirschvogel's contemporaneous engravings of Paracelsus in the cover and frontispiece designs are reproduced with the permission of the Albertina, Vienna.

Production by Ruth Fisher Marketing by Nancy Farrell

Published by State University of New York Press

© 1997 State University of New York, Albany

All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

For information, address the State University of New York Press, State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Weeks, Andrew. Paracelsus : speculative theory and the crisis of the early Reformation / Andrew Weeks. p. cm. (SUNY series in Western esoteric traditions) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-7914-3147-9 (alk. paper). ISBN 0-7914-3148-7 (pbk.:

alk. paper) 1. Paracelsus, 1493-1541. 2. ReformationEurope. German -speaking. 3. RenaissanceEurope, German-speaking. 4. Europe, German-speakingIntellectual life16th century. I. Title. II. Series. B785.P24W35 1997 199'.494dc20 96-16616 CIP

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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To my infant daughter Hannah Rose, her mother Veronika Weeks-Strotzka, her grandmother Mary Fern Weeks, and her greatgrandmother Rosa Hannah Winks

Te digo que la rosa es eterna y que sólo su apariencia puede cambiar. Jorge Luis Borges, La rosa de Paracelso

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Contents Preface Introduction Chapter 1 The Ambiguities of Paracelsus Chapter 2 Plague and Salvation Chapter 3 Peasant War and Iconoclasm Chapter 4 The Liberation of the Divine Image Chapter 5 The Voyage of Medicine Chapter 6 The World as Mirror Chapter 7 The Illumination of Theory Conclusion Notes Select Bibliography Index

 

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Preface

Paracelsus is an errant star in the firmament of sixteenth-century aspirations. Born roughly 500 years ago in 1493 or 1494 at Einsiedeln in Switzerland, he appears to have been destined for the life of a restless wanderer whose travels and stations in mature years would be concentrated in South Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. As a medical theorist and philosopher of nature, Paracelsus met with many setbacks and few successes in life, but soon after his death in 1541, his few printed tracts and myriad scattered manuscripts would make him one of the most famous and controversial figures of his age. In character, language, and scope, the writings of Paracelsus are certainly among the most formidable documents of early German literature. However, their content often rambles toward uncertain ends, dissipating between the elaborations of a physician and those of a philosopher and mystic.

This uncategorizable thought and writing can be fittingly characterized by means of a term used by Paracelsus himself, a word resonant with current preoccupations. Theory fills a large portion of his books, tracts, and fragments. What his writings convey most often and most spectacularly is neither practice nor empirical observation, but rather a speculative and contemplative thought that roams among disciplines and subjects as freely as Paracelsus wandered between cities. Despite the vast differences between his mentality and ours, theory is an apt characterization for a writing that can alternate in a single fragment between the projects of explaining nature, healing human life, interpreting the meanings of things, and imagining their cosmic, metaphysical, and divine contexts.

Paracelsian theory is a strange creation. Already during his own century, conjectures were made regarding its origins and kinships. Even knowledgeable modern commentators have differed greatly on the issue of his key influences, finding his religious sources among the medieval, Lutheran, or dissenting Spiritualist tendencies of his period, or associating him with Neoplatonistic, Hermetic, or Gnostic elements in Renaissance philosophy. Though

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the suggestions are diverse, they fall into two chief categories: either his work is seen as affiliated with the religious culture of his time, or it is linked to the philosophical and scientific currents of the Renaissance. During his own century, his name was connected with the two figures who were to become emblematic for the affinities accorded him: Luther and Faust, the reformer and the charlatan as some would have it, the medieval bigot or the forward- looking humanist. Aptly or not, the alternative of Luther or Faust has often stood for reaction versus progress.

Because of these dichotomies, the study of Paracelsus has frequently been subdivided by the orientations of science and religion. The scientific-historical approach to Paracelsus has been represented by Karl Sudhoff, Walter Pagel, and, most recently, Allen G. Debus; and the theological viewpoint most ably in this century by Wilhelm Matthießen, Franz Strunz, and, above all, Kurt Goldammer. If in recent times the scientific-historical interpretation has endeavored to incorporate an awareness of Paracelsus's "mysticism," the two approaches have not surmounted the duality of Renaissance and Reformation frames of reference. To some extent, however, the duality of resultant perspectives can be surmounted by our term theory. To be sure, Paracelsus's theorica is a usage of the medical or philosophical writings. Yet, in them, the term is employed neutrally with regard to the modern dichotomization of scientific and religious speculation. Theory-theorica can characterize metaphysical elements in the scientific division of his complete writings without implying a contradictio in adjecto. No other term is broad enough to surmount the false dichotomy that relegates religious themes to a sociological context extraneous to intellectual history.

Paracelsian theory was born of the crisis of the 1520s, in an era when many of the intellectual strains and conflicts of the preceding decades and centuries were being revived with a frenzied vitality that brought forth new creations of intellect, imagination, and faith. My argument in this monograph is that Paracelsus's seminal writings originated during a much briefer interval than has commonly been maintained, during a span of several decisive years, and that they arose, not in isolation of the events accompanying the early Reformation, but rather as an immediate outgrowth of these events. In relating Paracelsian theory to the crises of the early Reformation, my purpose is not to uphold or disclaim his putative allegiances to Lutheranism, Neoplatonism, Spiritualism, Catholicism, or any other

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doctrine, confession, or group of the time. Such allegiances have often been exaggerated. My intention is rather to demonstrate that his work originated in a crisis of authority which motivated other doctrinal, philosophical, and political disputes occurring in his surroundings. Issues will be discussed that should offer insight into intellectual sources of his theories. However, surely the most profound source of Paracelsian theory has to be sought in a critical transformation of thinking, in an explosion, collapse, and reconstruction of traditional authority, an event from which we can retrieve only shards and pieces in the form of declamations, doctrines, or theories.

My objective is not to argue for the present-day relevance of Paracelsian theory. His ideas presuppose conditions of life and knowledge quite remote from ours. Although it is an error to assume that his more peculiar notions were widely believed in his time, little is learned by measuring him against an anachronistic standard of progress or reaction. Coherence and incoherence are the poles between which his thought struggles for expression and therefore can best be evaluated. This is not said in order to relativize the truth claims of his work. Because Paracelsus did consider his formulations true, he might indeed have considered our search for influences misguided. A correct formula is, after all, true in its coherent entirety; the miscalculation has a source that can be traced to some precise point of introduction. What attracted assent in the discourse of Paracelsus rang true for him by virtue of its inner cohesion and its resonance with a context remote from our own but present to him and his fellows. This wellspring of validity is only obfuscated by representing him and his notions as exemplary or relevant to our own values and purposes.

I will argue for a text-centered historicism that approaches the writings of Paracelsus as writings, not as collections of sayings by an oracular genius and not as grist for a postmodern theoretical mill. In-depth perspective should mean letting his writings speak for themselves and allowing the voices that speak through his work to evoke their own historical context. No doubt the theme of this book, Paracelsus and the crisis of the early Reformation, is in many respects a remote one for modern readers. But neither the theme nor the reader would be served by claiming him as an unrecognized prophet and man for our time, much less by browbeating his obscurity with the anachronisms of contemporary critical theory. The

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prima facie remoteness of his writings calls for a text-centered historicism, for an approach that, without losing itself in tangential details, allows Paracelsus to mean what he says, without requiring us to accept at face value what is insupportable or contradictory.

In interpreting Paracelsus, I am indebted to the many path-forging researchers of the past and present who have devoted much of their lifetimes to editing and analyzing his work, and whose firsthand knowledge of the manuscript sources I lack. Assuredly, much of what is right in this book derives from their efforts, while much of what is wrong results from the absence of their experience and involvement. Nevertheless, the outsider to the field of Paracelsus studies can enjoy one advantage: that of an interested but uncommitted skepticism.

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Introduction

ich bin nit Lutherus, ich bin Theophrastus, und bin der Theophrastus, den ir zu Basel

Cacophrastum

und bin ich euch

Cacophrastus nit genug gewachsen, ich sag euch, meine schuchriemen wissen mer dan ir und alle euer schulmeister, Galenus und Avicenna, und all eure hohenschul. wolt ir das nicht lassen war sein, legent curam utramque auf die wag und secht wie die wag ausschlage.

I am not Luther, I am Theophrastus, the Theophrastus you called 'Cacophrastus' in And if I am not match enough for you as Cacophrastus, I tell you, my shoestrings know more than you and all your schoolmasters, Galen and Avicenna, and all your high schools. If you can't accept that as true, lay both cures on the scales and see how they tip. 1

Theophrastus was of course not Luther. But the two men were contemporaries, and no one but Luther is so appositely other for the medical reformer Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, who is known as Paracelsus. This sixteenth-century physician, medical theorist, philosopher of nature, writer on theology, and mystic, who was also an antiauthoritarian and a rebel against traditions and institutions, rivalled Luther in resolve, if not in results. The gestures and cadences of the medical reformer are those of an age of religious war. The challenge hurled at his opponents to weigh their cures on the scales of justice recalls a Reformation engraving in which Holy Scripture alone tips the balance against the crushing

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pomp and luxury of the Roman Church. Similarly, the symbolic gauntlet cast down in defiance: just as Luther and his students had burned the canon law and bull of excommunication in Wittenberg, Paracelsus publicly cast into the flames a medieval medical compendium at the University of Basel. Instinctively aware of the symbolic form of his actions, Hohenheim flaunted the intransigence of a man beholden to none. Through his actions and writings, he made the agony of his uncompromising determination, made the apodictic certainty of his intuitions and the sweeping scope of his theories, into distinctive marks of the life and legend of Paracelsus.

At a critical moment of his career, Paracelsus signaled his sense of mission by distinguishing himself from, and by the same token comparing himself with, the supreme reformer of his time: the ''humble monk" who had defied the pope, breaching the legal fortifications of Rome; who stood his ground even before Emperor Charles V, thereby awakening new conscience in people of all estates throughout the German lands and beyond. For a Paracelsus whose writings and actions were perforce concerned nearly as much with rhetorical and propagandistic self- legitimation as with medical practices or clearly enunciated religious doctrines, the preeminence of Luther as the sovereign reformer of the world could exert an influence that did not entail creedal conformity.

No one is more appositely other than Luther. When the name is invoked, it is as if kingdoms were being defined by a boundary which the physician deigns to suffer: "You well know that I let Luther answer for his affairs; I shall

answer for my own

.) The statement seems to echo Luther's own pledge, in the Letter to the German Nobility (1520), to let the medical field reform its own university faculties and leave theology and law to him. The wary respect expressed by Paracelsus does not entail doctrinal adherence. The point is that he and Luther are up against the same treachery. Nothing more than a coarse word of nonaggression is therefore in order: "for [Luther] shall not unbind a lace of my shoes" (dan er sol mir nicht ein rinken auftun in meinen schuhen). By no means does the physician, who calls himself in the same passage the Monarcha medicorum, wish to be deemed less than his counterpart in Wittenberg.

Paracelsus was not a Lutheran, nor a Humanist, nor a member of any religious sect of the day. He was certainly not a loyal Catholic

." (du weißt wol, ich laß Lutherum sein ding verantworten; ich will das mein selbst

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during his lifetime, though he was buried in this faith in Salzburg. He stands as an anomaly. The very name conveys a mixture of exaltation and antithesis, a lofty but rather cryptic flourish of sovereignty. Generally, the Humanistic nomenclature of sixteenth-century Germany either translated a German surname into Latin or Greek (thus Bauer, "peasant," became Agricola; and Schwarzerd, "black earth," became Melanchthon), or the Humanistic name offered a motto (Luther as Eleutherius, "the free man''). By contrast, the root intention of the name Paracelsusaname that appeared on tracts ushered into print in the author's lifetimehas not been resolved to the agreement of scholars. It is either an oblique rendering of Hohenheim, or perhaps a boast that the so-named exceeds the ancient medical authority Celsus, or that the bearer is the author of works of a paradoxical, antithetical character. Several of Paracelsus's posthumously published works bear mysterious but resonant titles containing the prefix para- (Opus Paramirum de Medica Industria, Opus Paragranum, and the versions of Opus Paramirum). A distinctive trademark is conveyed by the combination of the name with the titles of these books.

Despite numerous imitations, the authenticated writings of Paracelsus, which have been gathered and evaluated in a process of edition centuries in duration, bear the vivid stamp of their author's personality. They address the modern reader in a voice that is reckless yet also unaffected and unpolished, in a tone ranging from the personal, almost confessional, admission, to the coarse fury of the self-proclaimed "monarch of physicians," who, like a harried beast, threatens to sweep aside the horde of vile detractors hounding his path.

If this voice has no equal in early German literature, the tone of his productions was largely unfiltered by a reflective and studied process of composition of the kind that characterized most thoughtful literature then or thereafter. We learn from the contemporary account of Johannes Oporinus, and from Paracelsus's own hint, that he dictated many of his works to "secretaries." 2Beginning in Basel, Oporinus served him for several years in this capacity, during what would prove to be the zenith and debacle of the master's career. In 1555, Oporinus recalled in a letter to Johann Weyer (an anti-Paracelsian, but also an independent-minded critic of witchcraft persecutions) how the master, who had been dignified by a dual position at the university and as an official physician to the city, was in the habit of returning home late after garrulous nocturnal drinking

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bouts. Sometimes Paracelsus would fall into bed fully clothed and then wake up in a fit of rage, terrifying young Oporinus by banging against the wall the sword he carried with him at all times and claimed to have received from an executioner. But it could also happen that the master would arouse himself and his amanuensis from sleep, and, though still inebriated, dictate forth his philosophy with such fluidity and clear sense that, as Oporinus recollected, a sober person might not have improved upon it.

The unflattering frankness of Oporinus's recollections has elicited censure from German Paracelsus scholars. 3However, the context of the letter is by no means one-sidedly hostile; and the details actually tally with Paracelsus's own writings in point of his bouts of rage and knowledge of wine. At the very least, the memoir of Oporinus confirms what is implicit in the known facts of Paracelsus's biography: he was a man perpetually on the move, driven by passions and ideas. His motto was that of the self-made independent: "Let no one belong to another who can belong to himself" (alterius non sit qui suus esse potest).4Lacking stable ties and long-term associations, he produced his works, even in the best of years, unharbored by a scholar's study and library. In this, Paracelsus would appear to have been the very antithesis of Luther, the sedentary Wittenberger and unflinching center of the Reformation. However, he resembles Luther in that what he wrote, and what he in writing became, was conceived and carried out in large part in the heat of furious controversies.

Paracelsus may be said to have created himself ex nihilo, by uttering and enacting into being the great congeries of theories, legends, and deeds that became associated with his name. Though much has been written about his broad background of experience, far less is evident in his work than scholars favorably disposed to him have cared to acknowledge. What we know about his past, prior to his first record of himself as a writer and polemicist, is vague. There is no reason to doubt that the elder Hohenheim, a physician of Swabian origin, imparted to his son a love of medicine, nor that his father and others in the mining regions of Carinthia and Tirol furnished the pupil and young man with a practical knowledge of alchemy that would become a key ingredient in the Parcelsian medicine and philosophy. His writings give evidence of filial loyalty and trust. They display a wealth of practical-alchemical lore, and document his informed interest in the occupational diseases of miners, all of which may be read as tokens of an early vocation inherited from a physician father in a mining region in the South of Austria.

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It is especially striking that in his claims of originality, he also acknowledges his debt to his father, as in this boast of a peculiar knowledge of mathematic art: "For I am different. I give thanks to the school into which I came, [and] boast of no other man than of him who gave birth to me and instructed me early" (dan anderst bin ich. ich bedank mich der schul in die ich komen bin, berüme mich keines menschen als alein des, der mich geboren hat und mich jung aufgeweist hatI,12:205). Actually, no branch of learning is less in evidence in his writings than mathematics; but even this overbearing confidence in all fields must have owed something to the encouragement of his elders. Another passage in his late writings expands his filial gratitude with reference to an early instruction in philosophia adepta:

From childhood on, I pursued these things and learned from good instructors, who had the firmest knowledge of the adepta philosophia and energetically researched the arts in the most thorough way. First of all, Wilhelm von Hohenheim, my father, who has never forsaken me, and then, with him, a great number whose names cannot easily all be mentioned, with many writings of the ancients and moderns from various sources, who expended much effort

von kintheit auf hab ich die ding getriben und von guten underrichtern gelernet, die in der adepta philosophia die ergründesten warent und den künsten mechtig nach gründeten. erstlich Wilhelmus von

Hohenheim, meinen vatter, der mich nie verlassen hat, demnach und mit sampt im ein große zal, die nit wol zu nennen ist, mit sampt vilerlei geschriften der alten und der neuen von etlichen herkomen, die sich groß

gemühet habent

(I,10:354)

He goes on to give several names of Carinthian churchmen to whom he considers himself indebted. This acknowledgment late in life of having been influenced or educated by clericals who pursued alchemistic studies takes on some further credibility from the indications found throughout his writings of a casual knowledge of a kind that might have been readily acquired by someone who had attended monastery schools (but not sufficient to demonstrate that he had studied theology). References to religious figures abound. These include the twelfth- century visionary mystic and medical writer,

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Hildegard of Bingen (1,13:334), who is a possible precursor of his own medicine and nature philosophy, with its study of microcosm, macrocosm, and its divine signs borne by the created things of nature.

However, there is no certainty regarding Hohenheim's study at the University of Ferrara, where he is supposed to have earned a doctorate, 5nor regarding his attendance at the other Italian, German, and French universities where, years later, he claimed to have sought to learn the true "ground in medicine" (den grunt in der arznei I,10:19). In one treatise, he refers to Ficino as the "best of Italian physicians" (Italorum vero Marsilius medicorum optimus fuitI,4:71). But he could easily have known of Ficino, Leoniceno, or Manardo of Ferrara without having studied there or anywhere else in Italy.

The same must be said of the great migratory period of the young man. His reportedly far-ranging wanderings fulfill several functions in Paracelsus scholarship: biographically, they cap his uncertain years of study in Ferrara; historically and culturally, his travels qualify him as an intrepid seeker-discoverer of the Renaissance type; methodologically for his work, the journeyman years appear to bear out his preference for fresh experience over stale academic doctrine. With regard to the multifariousness of his observations, the awareness of many countries is put forward by him as a rationale for his distinct findings. On the last two points, caution is in order: if we were to suppose that Paracelsus had never departed from German lands, or, conversely, if we had a sure documentation of his itinerary, the problem of interpreting his writing and thought would remain much the same.

There is, however, no compelling reason to exclude an early peregrination of Paracelsus, whether or nor it acquainted him with nearly all regions of Europe, from Portugal and Spain to Sweden, Poland, Croatia, Rhodes, and Muscovy. Paracelsus was a lifelong wanderer. A clue to the specifics of an itinerary is his claim of having served in Venetian, Danish, and Dutch wars, where he gained his knowledge of fevers and wounds (I,7:374). These engagements would point to the years 1516-1517, 1520, and 1519, respectively. Scholars have speculated about the specific stations and events of his travels. But here again, nothing can be established with certainty.

Nor did Paracelsus, who was otherwise anything but reticent about connections and achievements, detail the specifics of his informal attendance of other universities in Italy, Germany, and France (aside from lambasting all these insititutions in the most sweeping

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terms). Characteristically, he writes that everywhere he went. he not only asked questions of the professors, but also, he asserts, of other learned and nonlearned healing practitioners of whatever kind. Besides the barber surgeons and the bathhouse officials (who were organized in guilds and often entrusted with minor medical duties) and the educated physicians, the itinerant seeker had inquired about the medicine of "women, necromantic artists concerned with such things, of alchemists, of cloisters, of noble and commoner, of the clever and the simple" (weibern, schwarzkünstlern so sich des pflegen, bei den alchimisten, bei den klöstern, bei edlen und unedlen, bei den gescheiden und einfeltigenI,10:20). The egalitarian openness to an unlearned medicine agrees with other accounts of Paracelsus's predilection for the company of the common people. Bullinger, who knew him in Zurich, thought him more like a drayman-laborer than a doctor. 6

Even during the early 1520s, Paracelsus could scarcely have evaded the tidings of the Reformation, which were spreading even beyond German lands and into other countries, some of which were caught up in similar turmoils of their own. In mid-decade, by the time of the earliest documentation of Paracelsus's encounter with such events, the enthusiasm of the popular reformation was building to the tragic climax of the Peasant War of 1525.

In 1524-1525, the author Paracelsus openly challenged the ecclesiastic authorities in Salzburg during the revolutionary events that coincided with the Peasant War. The polemical and theological tracts he penned and circulated by hand before he was compelled to flee the city are among his very earliest writings. A dedicatory letter accompanying one of these early writings was respectfully addressed to Luther, Melanchthon, and Bugenhagen in Wittenberg.7If authentic, the letter indicates that Paracelsus was endeavoring to ingratiate himself at this juncture with the leaders of the Reformation. Not much later, he is known to have been accompanied by a learned assistant named Ulrich Geyger, who had studied at the University of Wittenberg.8However, this was precisely the juncture during which Luther was vehemently distancing himself from erstwhile supporters among the radical peasants and reformers, calling for their violent suppression. It is unlikely that he would have reacted favorably to Paracelsus's overtures.

After the great massacres of peasants in 1525, there began a gradual but continual curtailment of doctrinal individualism and

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mass utopian fervor. Paracelsus migrated toward the cities of the Upper Rhine, where a civic reform spirit and a greater degree of doctrinal openness persisted. The greatest breakthrough and central episode of his life occurred early in the year 1527. Summoned to Basel by reform-minded burghers and clergy, he was asked to fulfill a dual position as official city physician and university professor or instructor. Basel was a cosmopolitan center of learning, momentarily caught up in the throes of reformation, a city with cultural ties to much of Europe. Here Paracelsus was suddenly catapulted to precarious heights. He enjoyed the good will of Oecolampadius, the reformer of Basel, of the Amerbach brothers, illustrious Humanists, and of the famous printer Froben, who was his patient. Unfortunately, he was also at the mercy of the Basel medical professors, students, and the city's apothecaries who eschewed his new theories and mocked his German lectures. After incurring considerable open hostility in the city, a quarrel with a patient over payment led to scandals that put an abrupt end to his year of greatest opportunity.

Paracelsus fled headlong in order to avoid punishment and to seek new opportunities. Outwardly, the remaining years of his life consisted of a series of rearguard actions undertaken during an extended retreat. Some of his efforts met with modest success. Most ended in failure. His flight from the Upper Rhine also coincided with the continuing suppression of Anabaptists and unauthorized preachers (Winkelprediger). City governments were beginning to warn their citizens against quarrels and disputes that could easily give rise to blasphemies and heresies. Such ordinances and warnings could only have made Paracelsus all the more troublesome and suspicious in the eyes of the governing powers. 9At the end of the decade, he sought to gain a foothold in Nuremberg, a city which, in consultation with the magisterial reformers Luther and Brenz, had been purging itself of dissenting elements; and which soon, under consultation with the University of Leipzig, implemented a ban on the printing of Paracelsus's works. This was around the time of the crisis following the Diet of Speyer in 1529, when a general war against Protestant cities and territories seemed imminent.

For Paracelsus, the end of the decade was again something of a turning point, an ebbtide and reevalutaion of beliefs. An air of gloom and hysteria pervades certain of his writings from this period. By 1531, little hope remained for the restoration of his lost posi-

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tion or the realization of his overriding ambitions. He spent the early 1530s wandering in Alpine regions, perhaps among outcasts and like-minded souls. Prof. Goldammer suspects that he preached and wrote religious tracts, while continuing to pursue his medical-theoretical projects. As evidence of his pressing sense of religious mission during this period, Paracelsus in 1534 responded to a humiliating rebuff by the Protestant and Catholic clergy of the Alpine town of Sterzing (Vipiteno), by professing not only expertise in all categories of medicine but credentials as a "doctor of Holy Scripture" as well.

The years 1534-1535 coincided with the spectacular demise of militant Protestant dissent exemplified by the millenarian "Kingdom of God" at the North German city of Münster. For Paracelsus's religious orientation, the midpoint of the decade appears to have effected a reversal in his public stance. After 1535, he again sought official recognition with some tentative success. The latter half of the 1530s even brought a mild improvement in his fortunes. His work on surgery was published; and the estates of his native Carinthia promised to subsidize publication of three tracts (the pledge, however, was honored only in 1955). With increasing fame, he became more desirable as a medical consultant and court adornment of nobles. The duke of Bavaria, who later conserved many of his writings, may have intended to bring him to his court. However, before matters could be so happily resolved, Paracelsus died in Salzburg in 1541.

In his writings, the epithet Lutherus medicorum occurs only once and it is attributed to detractors (I,8:63). Yet extensive parallels justify it. An early nineteenth-century philosophical historian of medicine, Dietrich Georg Kieser, observed that only the simultaneous epoch of the Lutheran Reformation could account for the emergence of Paracelsus. 10 If one compares a medical man and lay theologian with one of the great theological geniuses of all time, the comparison tends to produce glaring contrasts or slavish imitations. But if one regards their relationship in the context of their experienced crises, their provenance in the same catastrophic epoch is readily apparent.

The adventurous career of Paracelsus is certainly outwardly unlike that of Luther, who remained always the professor of Holy Scripture, even while the world around him fell apart and formed

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itself again. Just as Luther lived much of his life in or near Wittenberg, his massive corpus of writings was firmly centered. If his writings and person invite questions as a whole, his style and language are almost invariably direct and intelligible. By contrast, Paracelsus's writings, both as a whole and in countless details, can be as opaque as Luther's are transparent. Where the thinking of Luther perpetually circles around and returns to the word of God, that of Paracelsus seems to take up every sphere of investigation that impinges on his interests: medicine, surgery, alchemy, psychology, botany, astrology, meteorology, philosophy, prophecy, theology, and biblical exegesis. Within his writings, Paracelsus often meanders and abruptly shifts topics, in contrast to the unflinching purposefulness of Luther. Paracelsus is drawn to natural magic as Luther certainly is not.

It would be utterly misleading to call Paracelsus a medicus lutheranus; however, there are very sound reasons for calling him the Lutherus medicorum. Several generations of researchers have gradually revealed that a major portion of Paracelsus's writings were on religion, and of these perhaps half devoted to biblical exegesis; the five printed works found in his estate consisted of one medical work, a Bible, a New Testament, a concordance, and a gospel commentary by Hieronymous. 11 His lengthiest extant writing is his Commentary on Psalms.12The second division of the complete writings edited by Kurt Goldammer reveals him to have been nearly as preoccupied with speculative theology and biblical exegesis as with medicine and philosophy. In 1953, Goldammer observed that, "The connection between the Christian personality and the scientist, between the theological and the naturalistic work is extraordinarily close in Hohenheim" (Der Zusammenhang der christlichen Persönlichkeit und des Wissenschaftlers, des theologischen und naturforschenden Werkes ist bei Hohenheim außerordentlich eng).13The medical and natural-scientific work contains countless theological observations, and the theological writings stand on the foundation of his scientific research and thought, according to Goldammer.14The wandering theorist wrote extensively on the Eucharist and other sacraments and doctrines, as well as on the Virgin Mary and the saints in a manner that distinguishes him from most Protestants. If his theological writings often differ from Lutheran teachings, it is nevertheless significant that he composed them at all; and that they express his spirit of radical protest and stand in

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an important relation to his medical reform. His religious writings are indeed among his earliest, dominating the seminal phase of his career as an author. Moreover, even the earliest medical or philosophical works reflect his preoccupation with religious themes. 15

Like Luther, Paracelsus rose from humble beginnings and aspired to a reform that would have exalted a kind of divinely sanctioned immediate certainty above hierarchically vested traditional authority. The advance of the print medium, the fame and influence of the Humanists, and above all the lightning-like success of Luther's writings in the early 1520s had set the stage for his emergence as an author. Hans J. Hillerbrand summarized the early propagation of the Reformation debate through the print medium: "The number of Protestant publications was legion. By 1523 some thirteen hundred different editions of tracts by Luther alone had been published; assuming that each edition involved between seven hundred and fifty and eight hundred copies, we reach a total of about one million copies. The first truly popular tract from Luther's pen, the Sermon on Indulgence and Grace written in German and printed in 1518, was reprinted fourteen times in 1518, five times in 1519, and four times in 1520."16 By the early 1520s, there were other and more topical tracts to be printed and read: Luther's three great works of that year, On the Freedom of a Christian, which according to Oberman inspired more people than any other work by Luther,17 On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, with its strong metaphor of a victorious breaching of fortifications, and the Letter to the Christian Nobility, which held out the prospect of a sweeping reformation of social and academic life, including even a reform of medicine though Luther disavowed expertise in that area.

As Hillerbrand observes, one has to look beyond the most famous reformers and consider the authorial output of those in the second and third ranks of prominence to gauge the immense mental energies liberated by the Reformation. The effectiveness of this output can be measured by the responses, for and against. We can only look back in horror at the persecution of simple men such as Sebastian Lotzer, author of the Twelve Articles of the revolutionary peasants, or Johannes Hergot, the Nuremberg printer executed in Leipzig in 1527 for publishing a programmatic appeal for a reformation in the interests of the poor. But for all the crushing injustice of these repressive measures, they reacted to the potential power of ideas expressed in the tract or sermon.18

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During the 1520s, one bold figure after another attempted to seize the initiative in this multifaceted transformation of power and beliefs in order to realize the potentials that seemed within grasp under the conditions of rapid change. At the beginning of the decade, Andreas von Bodenstein, known as Karlstadt (ca. 1480-1541), hastened the pace of the reforms in Wittenberg in Luther's absence and, after being forced aside, turned even more radical and populistic. The Humanist knight, Ulrich von Hutten (1488-1523), learned to write effective appeals to the people in German and attempted to forge a national alliance between the rebelling knights and the Wittenberg theologians. Failing to attain any of his goals, Hutten died of syphilis on the island of Ufenau near Zurich. There, after being turned away by Erasmus in Basel, he was granted asylum by this city that stood under the leadership of Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531). A reformer and priest to the people, Zwingli was another doer and thinker in one: he became a reformer through his intensive studies, dominating the affairs of his city. He died in battle against the forces of the Catholic cantons at Kappel. Certainly, the most spectacular example of a speculative mind hurtling itself through the opened door of the early Reformation into revolutionary action is the case of Thomas Müntzer (1490- 1525). More than any of the magisterial reformers, this intellectual pastor turned chiliastic prophet attempted to translate his inner vision directly into reality by preaching and leading the peasants in their great revolutionary uprising. Men such as these dominated in the unstable regions of Switzerland, South Germany, and Austria during the period of Paracelsus's wanderings there.

Like the Wittenberg reformer addressing the German people from his seat in the north, Paracelsus wrote and lectured in the vernacular. In adopting German over Latin, Luther, according to Heiko Oberman, was acting as "pastor to the nation":

His opting for the German language is based on the conscious decision to serve the common folk rather

than the sodalities of

Erfahrung, which is to become thematic in Luther's tracts and sermons in the coming years, the experience of God and death which does not know social boundaries. 19

Primarily it is related to the discovery of the dimension of experientia,

The same ethos of service to the people, sometimes heightened to an apostolic duty and service of Christian love, is expressed in many of

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Paracelsus's writings. Disavowing a separate spiritual estate, Luther upgraded every activity as a service to God; he spoke of the universal priesthood of the laity. For Paracelsus, the activity of the physician has a priestlike import that goes far beyond what Luther might have accorded it. For either of the two, writing in the vernacular and serving the common folk were understood as part of a Christian ethos or mission.

There are other important similarities in their respective outlooks: Luther and Paracelsus both rejected the nonscriptural foundations of Scholasticism, objecting strongly to Aristotelian philosophy. Luther rejected it in favor of a Bible open to every lay believer, and in favor of the experienced inner faith that alone justified the believer. Paracelsus cast the Aristotelian philosophy of medieval Scholasticism aside in favor of a nature that he viewed almost as a second bible, complementary to the written one; and in favor of what he called experientiaausage that, I will contend, owes as much to the inner experience of religious faith as to observation in modern scientific method.

Luther's doctrine of the universal priesthood of the laity and his emphasis on inner faith led to an individualization of sin and salvation. There is a parallel to this in Paracelsus's rejection of a Galenic medicine that, in its generalized form, considered all diseases as variants of humoral imbalances. The traditional recourses of the Galenists were as discredited for Paracelsus as the commerce in indulgences for the Lutherans: either recourse, Galenic prescriptions no less than indulgences, was thought to be motivated by greed and venality. In rejecting humoral medicine, Paracelsus individualized disease and health by emphasizing specific external causes of illness and by enlarging the repertoire of cures to incorporate prescriptions derived from alchemical lore.

By turning away from the universals as the ultimate reality, nominalistic philosophy had broken ground for Luther's new sense of reality, meaning, and experience, emphasizing the particular and the individual. Alchemy, with its sense of the particularity and multiple transformability of substances, might be regarded as the nominalism of the Paracelsian medicine. On the foundation of an ''experience" that included alchemy, Paracelsus could claim to understand not only the real substances of disease, but also the true signs or signatures of things that revealed their inner God-given powers to heal. Paracelsus as well as Luther understood human experience as a perilous encounter of eternal and temporal powers. To both men,

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there are invisible and visible aspects of experience. Paracelsus as well as Luther saw ubiquitous strife in the world: a mixture of the good with the poisonous in nature; or the struggle of the warring kingdoms of Satan and Christ. Both Luther and Paracelsus believed in the omnipresence of a divine power in the world. For either, this power was associated with faith in a real divine presence in the Eucharist and with the substantially transforming power vested in the sacraments. Paracelsus of course went beyond Luther in developing a medical philosophy that recognized the manifestations of the divine power operating in arcane forces and inner virtues within nature.

On the question of divine ubiquity, the teaching of Luther arose from a doctrinal dispute and rested its case on a literal reading of Scripture: this seems to militate against comparisons with Paracelsus's occult pantheism. But, here again, the point is not that the physician held to an orthodox Lutheran explanation of the Eucharist; the point is that the transformation of the bread and wine is apposite to the transforming processes in the body and in nature; and that the transformation and the healthy functioning of the body are effected by ubiquitous divine powers. Galenic medicine could make do with an immanent and essentially materialistic explanation, based on the humoral imbalances. By contrast, the omnipresence of divine virtues and arcane forces is every bit as important in the medical theory of Paracelsus as is the ubiquitarian-eucharistic doctrine in Luther's theology. 20

Paracelsus the philosopher-physician was concerned with the secrets of nature, a theoretical preoccupation that cannot be ascribed to Luther. Nevertheless, both men undoubtedly partook of a sense of things that was common enough, if not universal, in their time. They also merit comparison with respect to the mentalities that contextualized and informed their respective doctrines. Just as Paracelsus saw the light of nature as a complement to scriptural revelation, Luther could only understand his doctrines by way of an intelligibility informed by perceptions of nature, by a common sense or reason that is much in evidence in his work. Luther was of course not speaking as a scientist in likening the eucharistic Abendmahl to the miracle that causes plant life to spring forth out of dead earth, but he was speaking his mind and expressing an experience of nature, for him bound up with the understanding of the divine omnipresence.

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The mentality of their age is expressed when, in his Letter to the Christian Nobility, Luther argues that a potter knows more about physics than can be learned from the books of the "heathen" Aristotlepresumably because the potter recognizes the world as the handiwork of a creator, as Aristotle's thesis of an uncreated universe did not. The same mentality is evident when Paracelsus, always contemptuous of Aristotle, characterizes the processes of digestion as the work of an agent, acting as an alchemist in the body: creation or transformation are the work of an artisan. The more intricately constructed and abstractly conceived universes of Scholasticism or Renaissance Neoplatonism are gone. Despite a number of conceptual or terminological remnants, the thinking of Paracelsus is informed as much as that of Luther by a common, palpable, and immediate experiencebe it of objects touched and seen or be it of those feared, imagined, or believed in.

Just as there is an inner realm of nature, essential to the healing powers of herbs or the transforming power of sacraments, there is a similar power in the human spirit: this inner power is faith to Luther; it is faith, as well as a magical potency of the imagination, for Paracelsus. To be sure, Paracelsus does not go so far as to equate the imagination with faith altogether, yet in some contexts, these terms signify a single power. Paracelsus's successors went beyond him to interpret faith and imagination conjointly, so that at times the transforming power of religious faith could appear virtually identical with a higher power of the inspired imagination.

In part because of its origin in the immediate, the writing of Paracelsus is in a particular sense time-bound. It has been said that his travels vouch for his universality. But this can hardly be the case. Knowledge of other countries is remarkably vague for this world-traveller. What he has seen confirms that lands are different and Germany is as good as or better than others; or it allows him to draw figural comparisons between the globe and the human body. But he has learned nothing that could not have been gleaned from hearsay. Even his references to the parts of the globe still adhere to the old threesome of Europe, Asia, and Africa. 21Over four decades after Columbus's discoveries, and two decades after the great wanderer Paracelsus claims to have visited Portugal, Spain, and sundry other maritime nationswhen even some who had never left Germany were reading and writing of the New WorldParacelsus's map of the earth remains the medieval one. In 1537, his Astronomia

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Magna at last registers a report of "concealed islands" (die verborgenen insulen). But news of human inhabitants excites no anthropological or geographical curiosity. It arouses suspicious incredulity that the inhabitants could be his flesh-and-blood relatives by the same Adam (I,12:35).

His sense of time is equally vague and restricted. Luther admitted to knowing little of prior history. His sense of the present and the past was molded by eschatological suppositions. Similarly, history to Paracelsus is a flat slate inscribed with a smattering of names unreferenced to year, century, or historical context; history is overshadowed by prophetic and eschatological perspectives. His rough and perspectivally flattened picture of the past is evident in his Kärntner Chronik, a brief chronicle of his "second fatherland," the South Austrian land of Carinthia. The chronicle is addressed to the Carinthian estates who had promised to publish this and other works in 1537 (the promise that was made good by the modern Carinthian government in 1955). According to the chronicle, Carinthia was settled by descendants of the biblical Japhet, as well as by an influx from the tribe of the Philistines. The chronicle enumerates the illustrious men who have been linked in some way to the Carinthian past. They include Julius Caesar, Carolus Magnus, and Attila the Hun, as well as the apocalyptically renowned medieval German king and Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I, "Barbarossa." As for him (the chronicle embarks here on an odd digression): he once founded a monastery and outfitted it with religious objects. One of the images depicted a monk, shown beneath a portentous caption with the barely legible letters: "LUTHERUS." Paracelsus may have written this at a time when his own opposition to Luther had already been voiced; but one can only wonder how the bishops and prelates to whom the Carinthian writings were addressed took this curious portent, served up by the author with much solemnity but without further explanation. One wonders if their bewilderment might have had something to do with the 400year delay in publication.

Except for the biblical past, which is so pertinent as to appear almost present, the history of knowledge is disdainfully marked swindel and bunk. As for the future, despite occasional flights of heroic optimism, the outlook is as confining as the vault that encloses the earth "as a yolk in an egg," "as a shell an egg" (als ein dotter im eiI,8:162; wie ein schal ein eiI,1:184). The yolk is the earth, the shell the firmament upon which he based the astrological prognostications

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that were his most successful publications to appear during his lifetime. The human or external cosmos is rounded by time, as it is enclosed by the encircling vault of the heavens. This closeness of things in space and time is essential to the understanding of microcosm and macrocosm, as well as to the correlations of stars and life and of astrology and disease.

Present time looms large for Paracelsus, overshadowing and encompassing darkly what was and is yet to be, absorbing the past as a legendary lore that is credulously accepted as experienced fact, and projecting the future in catastrophic premonitions that are the shadows cast by current events. A threateningly urgent immediacy underlies and informs the hastily composed or dictated treatises. In expressing relationships, his language is homely and cumbersome; but it waxes inventive in heaping ridicule on his opponents. 22The inventiveness of his invective can appear as blunt and pointed as a doctrinal broadside condemning satanic heresy or as a peasant's scythe hammered into a lance for improvised combat. A preface of the Carinthian writings recounts how his opponents contended hotly with him from streetcorner to streetcorner in Vienna, and how they sought to forge the "iron" of his own theory into a pike to wield against him (mit meinem eisen ein spieß wider mich zu machenI,11:4). Paracelsus's diatribes endeavor to turn the weapons of his opponents against them. He often deflects accusations that were presumably first launched against him: all critics, all those with whom he quarrels, beginning with the foolish Aristotle, are possessed of a wild imagination. He alone bases his statements on "experience." Turnabout is not only fair play for Paracelsus; it appears to be the preferred strategy, shaping his arguments in many writings. Admiring commentators have tended to ignore this or offset it by credulously accepting his polemics as justified by the errors and abuses of his opponents. This overlooks the extent to which an agitated spell of the moment informs, vivifies, and at the same time obscures his work. In stripping away everything conditioned by responses to immediate disputes, one effaces the meaning of his work.

What is of potential relevance to nonspecialized readers of Paracelsus is best brought to light by recognizing that his very real obscurities are to some extent a function of perspective, a product of implicit perceptions of time. Barbara Tuchman wrote of fourteenth-century Europe as "a distant mirror" of twentieth-century catastrophes. Whether or not the sixteenth century is more deserving than other periods to be dredged for revealing parallels to the geopolitical and

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intellectual realignments of our own time, the search for such parallels, or, more generally, the interest in historical or theoretical models for describing life, meaning, and change, should offer a privileged vantage for regarding the intellectual culture to be explored in this study.

In the view of a traditional, still popular historiography, sixteenth-century Germanythe venerable and crisis-racked Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in the age of Martin Luther and Emperor Charles Vconjures up a complex image, a sort of trick picture or Vexierbild of overlapping perspectives, each of which, taken in itself, superimposes its contours on the central figures and upon the pattern of the whole. It was the age of Copernicus, Dürer, Hutten, and Erasmus, as well as of Luther. Sixteenth-century Germany can be viewed in the light of the Renaissance or the Reformation; as medievalism or incipient modernity; in terms of German specialism or its European context; as continuity, regression, or epochal transformation.

German intellectual historians have underscored the epochal significance of the sixteenth century by referring to everything after 1500 as die Neuzeit. Die Neuzeit is the complement of das Altertum and das Mittelalter; it is the "new time" that follows upon antiquity and the Middle Ages. Professors of German used to specialize either in the study of literature before 1500 or in neuere deutsche Literatur, everything after that date. The idea of Neuzeit highlights Luther and his age by framing them with the aura of a dawn horizon. The antecedent periods are circumscribed in antecrepuscular time zones. It seems that, previously, culture had devolved from distinct presuppositions. Literature had been composed mainly in Latin, and thought bound by centuries-old traditions and restrictions. The dawn of the Neuzeit broadens, reinterprets, and deepens the medieval world; the orb is widened geographically to include the New World; the cosmos reinterpreted by the astronomy of Copernicus and other innovations in the sciences. In the Neuzeit, thought and culture are deepened by the recovery of ancient learning. Human existence is magnified and intensified by philosophical or doctrinal legitimations of the knowledge and faith of the individual. No one would seem to exemplify the term Neuzeit more powerfully and ambiguously than the idiosyncratic Paracelsus, who rejected most prior learning as ludicrous. A dawn halo effect therefore frames his perceived figure. Figures on any horizon appear to loom larger than life, to rise up out of nowhere and move directly toward the beholder.

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There can be little doubt that to a greater or lesser degree the developments of the sixteenth century bore a cumulative force that, sooner or later, brought home to contemporaries the sense of a dawning new time glowing with chiliastic overtones; or that the events of that century decisively transformed the world. But was it one transformation or many? Was the transformation unique in more than the obvious sense? To what extent is the nature of the change conditioned by later perception? We know that renaissances and chiliastic fervors are a recurrent mark of European cultural history. Even present-day culture is sufficiently taken with its own mood of Neuzeit that it looks forward by looking back at looking forward in embracing for itself the sobriquet of postmodernity. Whether sixteenth-century Germany can serve as an adequate mirror of the outgoing twentieth century, it does offer us a Vexierbild of conflicting perspectives, a puzzle suited to arouse an awareness of current ambiguities. Peering into the distant mirror of sixteenth-century Germany, we should expect to discovera figure peering into a mirror.

In another respect, the Vexierbild or puzzle of overlaid images is an appropriate point of departure for this study. I will show that Paracelsus's confusing congeries of concepts and theories derives its coherence and meaning from the underlying notion of the image as the pattern of creation and the focus of recognition. "Image" (bilt or biltnus), "figure" (figur), and "imagination" (fantasei or imagination)are terms that guide his thinking. Paracelsus's concepts of microcosm and macrocosm are rooted in his peculiar theory of generation as image-formation, a notion that reflects biblical precepts. Moreover, his emphasis on what he calls theoricaremote as it may be from our usagecan serve as a valuable reminder that much of what he writes is neither medicine, nor philosophy, nor theology, nor science, but a kind of speculation that floats freely and assimilates all of these. Taken as a heuristic keynote, his theorica offers us a pretext for drawing comparisons and contrasts with contemporary intellectual preoccupations. Parallel to contemporary critical theory, Paracelsus extended relationships of signification beyond all spoken or written systems of signs in order to pursue something on the order of a general theory of things: what we might refer to as a semantics or iconology of life and nature. Admittedly, this comparison incorporates an anachronistic bias of the sort this study professes to overcome. However, if scholarly biases are inevitable, they are certainly not well disposed of by being left unspoken.

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The Ambiguities of Paracelsus

Despite the tremendous advances in the scholarly knowledge of Hohenheim of the last hundred years, the myth of Paracelsus has proven remarkably resilient against adverse evidence. Before examining the beginnings of Paracelsian theory in the context of the early Reformation, I want to suggest that his received image has been greatly affected by perspectival distortions, wrought by his Faustian and Renaissance associations, by certain categorical prejudgments that induced scholars to look for and perceive what was required to sustain the myth, and by a scholarly division of labor that tends to exaggerate the distinction between the scientific and religious components of his thought and even to skew the dating of his work. Other factors rendering the Paracelsus myth impervious to outside challenges include the relative inaccessibility of his remaining unedited writings and the role of patriotisms, national as well as local, in setting the agenda for the journals and congresses devoted to his study.

Much Paracelsus scholarship has followed from an overriding fixed certainty, by way of a subordinate and variable procedure. The certainty is that the aim of scholarship is to discover what makes him great. The variable procedure is represented by the many divergent approaches, by the great variety of ParacelsusesHumanistic, scientific, occultist, proto-Jungian, Fascist, devout, or dissentingthat have been proposed in order to flesh out his presumed stature. Moreover, because the ideological shifts in the reception of Paracelsus have come and gone with no decisive endeavor to reassess him as a whole, hardly any other author or oeuvre of German literature has remained more shaped and colored in presentation by ideologies than Paracelsus. During the last hundred years, the period in which the scholarly understanding of his person and work has been elaborated, his image has reflected several very distinct ideologies: scientific positivism, völkisch biologistic racism,

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and Christian social ethics, as well as other religious or occult beliefs. Throughout these transformations, a number of characteristics have remained widespread: the tendency to identify Paracelsus with the Renaissance, the underestimation of his religious point of departure, and the undiscriminating impulse either to embrace or discount him as a wholealways the charlatan or the persecuted saintly genius. Before investigating the coherence of his ideas, it is therefore essential to examine some of the assumptions that have generated the Paracelsus myth.

The received notions of Luther and Paracelsus contrast as Reformationist single-mindedness and spirituality contrast with Renaissance universality and openness to natural experience. The portrait of Paracelsus as Faust has been retouched from era to era, yet it has persisted in nearly every era from Paracelsus's own down to the twentieth century. In the late sixteenth century, the Humanist Conrad Gesner compared the wandering philosopher-physician to the wayward magician Faust, 23thereby associating Paracelsus with the same powers of illicit magic that incited Luther's hatred of the nefarious scholar. Gesner also remarked on the reputation of Paracelsus as a physician and alchemistic innovator with efficacious cures. We have no means of assessing either the true similarity with the shadowy Faust or the degree of success of Paracelsus's medicine; what is certain is that his reputation remained largely dependent upon a variable relation of transgression and knowledge, dominated always by the same extreme alternatives of charlatanism versus idealistic truth-seeking.

Again and again, the association of Paracelsus with the Renaissance spirit and with Faust has been reasserted. In 1789, Johann Christoph Adelung assigned Paracelsus along with Faust to a rogues' gallery of charlatans. Only a year later, Goethe's Urfaust appeared, reflecting, according to scholars, its author's early interest in Paracelsus. Goethe, Wieland, and the Romantics defended Paracelsus against the aspersions of charlatanism and thereby reinforced the extreme options governing his reputation as mountebank or misunderstood genius.24

The rehabilitated Faust would be perceived as a vindication of a belated German Renaissance suppressed by Luther. Faust was to become an emblem of progress and enlightenment for the German Bildungsbürgertum. Karl Sudhoff, the great medical historian who edited the writings of Paracelsus, subtitled his 1936 biography, Ein

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deutsches Lebensbild aus den Tagen der Renaissance. With a different idea of genius, Jung's discussion of Paracelsus adhered to much the same concept of progressthough recognizing that, in addition to his "revolutionary" status in the history of science, he was a "conservative" with respect to Church doctrine. 25Even in scholarship not obsessed with Faust, the Renaissance portrait of the anti-Luther continued to prevail. Walter Pagel's classic study, Paracelsus: An Introduction to Philosophical Medicine in the Era of the Renaissance, conceded superficial resemblances to Luther, but nonetheless insisted that Paracelsus was a man of the Renaissance, who could not have been more strictly opposed to the "religious dogmatism" and "mystical belief'' of Luther.26 Though Pagel could also argue the mysticism of Paracelsus, he meant by this a syncretic, Renaissance mysticism, decisively influenced by Neoplatonism.27The fine recent survey by Allen G. Debus of The French Paracelsians presents Hohenheim in much the same light, as a representative of Renaissance "Hermeticism and natural magic." Debus relegates the "religious issues" accompanying Paracelsian chemistry and medicine to a "sociological study," extraneous to "intellectual history."28

In the history of Paracelsus reception, the turning point that proved most prodigious and far-reaching in its consequences came toward the end of the nineteenth century, at around the time of the four-hundredth anniversary of his birth. Though scholars in the nineteenth century had already investigated the status of Paracelsus in medical and scientific history, a broader interest was now kindled by the stimulating and controversial appraisals of Friedrich Mook, Karl Sudhoff, Eduard Schubert, and others.29After 1900, the era of fervent interest in Paracelsus began to unfold, climaxing in the veritable mania of the 1930s and 1940s.

Certainly, the climate of the times shaped the perceptions of the Faustian and Renaissance giant. In the late nineteenth century, Jacob Burckhardt's celebrated study of the Renaissance had encouraged enthusiasm for a heroic founding epoch of the modern individual and the modern state. Some Germans aspired to recoup a glorious medieval past after founding the Hohenzollern Reich. In the same vein, Richard Wagner's operas were reviving and reinterpreting Germanic mythology. Perhaps the heroic world was not a myth after all. If the scene of the great Homeric poem known to the graduates of humanistic Gymnasien could be unearthed when Schliemann undertook the remarkable step of digging in Asia Minor in order to

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discover the historic Troyperhaps one could unearth a true historical prototype for Goethe's Faust as well.

In 1911, the Germanist Agnes Bartscherer published a study of Goethe's Faust as a work inspired by the life and writings of Paracelsus. She based her arguments on Goethe's account of his alchemical avocation during his early convalescence in Frankfurt and on a close examination of the writings of Paracelsus. Though she was not the first to draw such connections, Bartscherer drew them more specifically than any scholar before her. Interpreting Faust in the light of Paracelsus's writings, she in fact improved the image of the fictional character, as others were resurrecting that of his real prototype. Thus, citing an alchemical work De Spiritibus Metallorum, she attempted to upgrade the understanding of the fictional father of Faust by what amounts to a vindication of progress. According to Goethe's poem, father and son poisoned more people in treating the plague with alchemistic remedies than the plague itself killed. Bartscherer made much of a clue to the good intentions of Faust father and son, when Goethe hints of the alchemistic symbol of "the young queen":

Since Faust's father in time of plague is only concerned with helping against the Black Death, not with making gold, it is understandable that he makes do with the queen, instead of transforming her through a further drawn out process of heating, into the king who produces golden treasures, and about whom the book of Alchimia speaks further.

Da es sich für den Vater Fausts in der Pestzeit nur um Hilfe gegen den schwarzen Tod, nicht um Goldmachen handelt, ist es verständlich, daß er sich mit der Königin begnügt, statt sie durch weitere langwierige Erhitzung in den König zu verwandeln, der goldene Schätze verschafft und von dem die Schrift Alchimia weiter redet. 30

In killing their patients, father and son rose above base intent. Bartscherer recognized in Faust's reference to his father an echo of the filial piety of Paracelsus. Neither the idealizations of Faust and Paracelsus, nor the filial trust that stirred the heart of more than one generation of Paracelsus admirers, nor the lofty ideals of service to humanity and progress (superimposed upon the poison kitchen of

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Faust père, as on his presumed prototype) were compatible with Goethe's knowing cynicism regarding the misguided trust of the common folk in their revered benefactors, father and son: well-intentioned betrayers of the people and perpetrators of a deadly mass malpractice. 31

More significant in the present context than the influence of Paracelsus on Goethe's Faust is the erosion of the boundary between fiction and historical fact in German attitudes toward Paracelsus. The breakdown has roots in Geistesgeschichte, in its recognition that forms or archetypes are cultural forces, virtual actors in history. Thus, for Friedrich Gundolf, Paracelsus was a figure of "macrocosmic zeal" (makrokosmischen Eifer), who knew no match in Georg Agricola, Kepler, Leibniz, or any other scientific mind prior toand here Gundolf leaps from history into literaturethe Goethe of the first Faust poem (Urfaust).32

In the aftermath of the defeat of 1918, the intellectual historian and Kulturpessimist Oswald Spengler (Der Untergang des Abendlandes)presented what he characterized as "Faustian Man": the archetypal "culture soul of Western man" (die abendländische Kulturseele). Faustian man was a generalized archetype that bore as much resemblance to the refurbished stylizations of Paracelsus as to Goethe's Faust, or to the obscure sixteenth-century Faust. Rising above the horizon of Neuzeit, Faustian Man represented an underlying quest for infinite knowledge and experience in Western culture after the Middle Ages. Kultur, to the extent that it had not yet been corrupted by the Zivilisation of England or America, was centered in Germany. In this light, the German proto-heroes, Faust or Paracelsus, seemed harbingers of something far greater and more fateful that had yet to yield its full consequences.

Vague intimations were offered in the Paracelsus trilogy of Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer, of which the first part (Die Kindheit des Paracelsus)was published in 1917, the second (Das Gestirn des Paracelsus)in 1921, and the third, with its ominous title, The Third Reich of Paracelsus (Das dritte Reich des Paracelsus), in 1925.33Kolbenheyer was not only an imaginative writer. He was an assiduous researcher of Paracelsus who copied the language and followed the outline of the known biography, though with much unavoidable embellishment. What was more problematical than mere imaginative license was Kolbenheyer's attempt to incorporate the hysterias and anxieties of the post-war period into a sixteenth-century life

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and, at the same time, to arrange the whole panorama of Paracelsus beneath the pantheon of his German cultural idols. In the age of trench warfare, Kolbenheyer recreates hand-to-hand front-line combat in the Swiss-Swabian battles of Paracelsus's century; and he exploits the Heimkehrer-motif of the returning warrior. Moral decadence and racial degeneracy are coupled in the person of Cursetta, courtesan to a papal legate who cavorts with a homosexual African. Paracelsus is Nordic Man. Wagner's Wotan and Luther's Christ augur and contend for the German soul. The North Wind is the Hater of Pestilence." Remaining in step with the times, Kolbenheyer subsequently explicated the socio-biological racism of his so-called Bauhüttenphilosophie. In the trilogy, the Nordic hatred of pestilence is embodied in Paracelsus's steadfast struggle to halt a plague epidemic in Ferrara. It is here that the Nordic hero develops his alchemical medicine and breaks with Galenism. 34Entranced by premonitions of an eternal German Kulturseele, Kolbenheyer adorned the final novel of his trilogy with a phrase popularized by Moeller van den Bruck's fatal title: Das dritte Reich des Paracelsus.

Kolbenheyer was an independent theorist of Deutschtum and a philosopher of race and folk. He was midwife to the Paracelsus cult of the Nazi era that yielded an enormous progeny of novels, poems, dramas, operas, studies, dissertations, and journalistic or propagandistic articles championing the German and "European" facets of the incomparable German folk genius.35A typical (and for its period, by no means ideologically extremist) expression of this cult can be found in Franz Spunda's biography, published in the banner year of Paracelsus writings, 1941. It begins with this characterization:

The Faustian Man, in the final form acquired through Goethe, is the outcome of a spiritual struggle (eines Geisteskampfes)that has extended over many millenia. The German soul of the Middle Ages, threatened and frightened by images of terror, almost expiring under the burden of its religious duties, sought peace and calm in fervent devotion to God without in the process being hemmed in by church dogma.

Der Faustische Mensch, wie er durch Goethe seine endgültige Gestalt gewann, ist das Ergebnis eines Geisteskampfes, der sich über viele Jahrhunderte erstreckt hat. Die deutsche Seele des

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Mittelalters, die unter der Last ihrer religiösen Verpflichtungen fast erlag, von Schreckbildern umdroht und verängstigt, suchte Ruhe in einer inbrünstigen Hingabe an Gott, ohne dabei vom kirchlichen Dogma eingeengt zu sein. 36

As if in order to break out of such encirclements by initiating a second military front, the German soul recognizes with the aid of the concepts of macrocosm and microcosm that it is able to have an impact upon the external world:

"Such a worldview explains the essence of the Faustian Man" (Ein solches Weltbild erklärt das Wesen des faustischen Menschen).37The Faustian Paracelsus prevails over the medieval contempt for the flesh, according to Spunda. For Paracelsian medicine, the body is sacred. As one who dwells in the twilight between ages, the figure of Paracelsus remains ambiguous in a way that that of Luther or Faust does not, writes Spunda. Faust represents striving; Paracelsus, experience and observation. What distinguishes him from the other Faustian natures of the late Middle Ages is his view to the future.38In an age of strong personalities, strength for him is only a means to the end of assisting his fellows. This echoes the Paracelsus of Bartscherer, Spengler, Kolbenheyer, or Gundolf. The dawn hues of die Neuzeit are always glimmering in the background.

It is not difficult to uncover and itemize the ideological myths. What is harder to explain, and rather more

disturbing to contemplate, is the extent to which many of the same traits are found in portrayals written before,

during, and after the period of extreme German nationalismwritten by Nazis, nationalists, or democrats. The Paracelsus myth remains at root much the same: he is the Faustian, the man of the people, the new man, tragically in advance of his time.39What, we must ask, are the qualities that make it possible for Paracelsus to attract the interest of politically varied groups? What in general are the allures of the Faustian man of the dawning Neuzeit?Does Paracelsus truly possess the qualities of such a figure?

We can best answer these questions by offering a credible presentation of his life and thought. But before turning to the life and times of Paracelsus, it is also necessary to suggest to the reader that historians of science and

medicine have often engaged in circular demonstrations of his status as an initiator of a new science and medicine,

a preordained fulfillment of the Faustian-Renaissance

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image of Paracelsus that renders the image virtually impervious to counter-demonstration.

This is not to deny Paracelsus's innovations or his sense of a reforming mission. It is generally agreed that he effectively challenged the hegemony of Galenic medicine; that he inaugurated an alternative school of iatrochemical medicine; and that his example encouraged others to search for healing powers in herbs and substances and to experiment in what would become chemistry. From the nineteenth century to the recent work of Debus, chemistry has had the least difficulty acknowledging a debt to his work. Though many claims for his achievements have proven exaggerated, 40occupational pathology, toxicology, and dietetics are among several specific fields in which he is regarded as a pioneer. Historians of science and medicine have investigated Paracelsus's work for evidence of discoveries. This study will not undertake an inexpert revision of their specific claims.

The unresolved problem attending all such assessments is that the assertion of his advances is not accompanied by any attempt to demonstrate just how he arrived at his conclusions. Among his edited works, there are many drafts and repeated treatments of the same theme. Yet almost no attempt has been made to establish from these drafts that the emergence of his results was an outcome based on experience, logic, or gradual reflection on a rationally conceived problem.41It would be difficult to imagine scholars failing to analyze the papers of a Newton or Kepler in order to ascertain their paths to discovery. What are we to make of Pagel's puzzling judgment that Paracelsus was not a scientistyet he "produced scientific results from a non-scientific world of motives and thoughts"?42What does it mean to say that non-scientific thoughts produce scientific results? Are such results perhaps comparable to the explorations encouraged in Paracelsus's time by late medieval writings on the legendary Kingdom of Prester John? No one would place the legend of Prester John in the history of scientific navigation on a level with the invention of the compass or the improvement of cartographyjust because the lore of the priest-king's fabled realm obliquely reflected an awareness of Abyssinia and the East. The writings on Prester John pertain to the world of medieval legend; the stimulation they provided to geographical exploration derived from their religious-political agenda.

How should we regard the supposed "scientific results" found in Paracelsus's work, if for every valid precept there are dozens of

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credulitiesfor every existent Abyssinia countless chimerical monsters? There has been no consistent attempt at separating the wheat from the chaff in Paracelsus's work, no general comparison of the relative weights of either. It is a circular argument to suggest that what we now regard as his advances were the basis of his sixteenth-century reputation, as if he and his supporters had been prescient. It would be more accurate to say that much of what we now see as progressive insight was the by-product of a garrulous propaganda aimed at inflating his fame. Modern natural science can no more provide an adequate retrospective on the experienced world of Paracelsus than modern mathematics might reconstruct out of itself the beliefs of an ancient Pythagorean mystery cult. What seems to render Paracelsus so keenly modern is the belief, his as well as ours, that he stood at the dawn of a new age.

Because of its circularity and status as a modern article of faith, the Paracelsus legend has proven resistant to reversals in evidence. Thus, in 1911, the Viennese medical historian J. K. Proksch offered a knowledgeably documented, balanced though still devastating, rebuttal to what he criticized as blind hero worship in Sudhoff. Contrary to Sudhoff's views, Proksch demonstrated that Paracelsus was considerably less original and less guided by practical medical experience than his self-praises would lead us to expect. Indeed, Proksch made a compelling case that, even by sixteenth-century standards of progress, Paracelsus was much less progressive and rather more given to credulous superstitions than Sudhoff had allowed. 43

The last point is crucial, since in defense of Paracelsus's scientific leanings, one might think that the rules and devices of empiricism were altogether unknown in the sixteenth century. This would be a misleading defense. A century before Paracelsus, Nicholas of Cusa called for quantitative research in medicineempirical experience in our sense. Paracelsus's contemporary Georg Agricola was a man who shared his medical and alchemical interests, along with some of his superstitions and prejudices. Though a Galenist and a Humanist who gleaned the writings of the ancients for naturalistic information, Agricola accumulated and ordered a wealth of information on mining, mineralogy, and the composition of streams and waters. He also composed a work on weights and measures, and a plague tract44that, though guided by humoral theory, is less phantasmagorical than Paracelsus's theory of epidemics. Hieronymus Brunschwig, a barber-surgeon and older contemporary of Paracelsus, had already applied antiseptic procedures to wounds, and argued

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that the surgeon should possess the knowledge of the physician. 45Medieval alchemists had long since taken the first steps toward chemical therapy. True, their thinking was rife with mystical beliefs. But should one suppose that the thinking of Paracelsus is less so? A thirteenth-century physician, Nicholas of Poland, had long before denounced medieval medical tradition and broken ranks with the medical establishment at the University of Montpellier, to champion specific remedies.

Nancy Siraisi has summarized his Paracelsus-like opposition to scholastic authority and advocacy of a natural medicine utilizing latent healing virtues:

As a result of his experiences there, Friar Nicholas wrote a poem denouncing the characteristic features of university medical trainingreliance on ancient authorities, scholasticism, and rationalism. In his native Poland he tried to develop his own "natural" alternative medicine; it consisted of the idea that God had implanted special healing virtues in revolting things and led him to urge his patients to eat snakes, lizards, and frogs.46

This sounds like and unlike Paracelsus: unlike him in appearing to embody medieval contentions rather than Renaissance openness to true naturalistic experience. We might assume that Paracelsus is in a very different category from Nicholas of Poland; that when he proposes strange and seemingly worthless diagnoses and remedies, he is at least doing so on the basis of empirical experience; that he has at least gotten onto the right bus, even if he gets off it at the wrong stop. This assumption is as incorrect for Paracelsus as it is for Nicholas of Poland.47

All claims made with respect to his status in the history of science rest in the final analysis on the pivotal assertion that he was, as he himself often proclaimed, an advocate of experience over tradition. Paracelsus's announcement of his lectures in Basel promised a program based on experientia ac ratio. It can be argued that if, and only if, this "experience" was on the side of naturalistic observation, are the successes attributed to him recognizable as scientific advances. However, when one compares the experiential findings of Paracelsus with those of others in his century, his "experience" appears to fall into a different category, more akin to religious contemplation than to rigorous observation by the senses.

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The image of Paracelsus not only overshadows precursors. It eclipses his contemporaries. This is especially evident when one compares Paracelsus with two medical authors who were younger by only one generation: Paré and Servetus. Even a practice-oriented work such as Die große Wundarznei (The Great Wound-Surgery), which presumably derived from Paracelsus's early activities in ministering to armies, can be searched in vain for the sort of precise clinical findings and fine accounts of wound dressings recounted of military surgery by Ambroise Paré (1510-1590). 48 As a craftsmanlike barber-surgeon who utilized his labors and expended his leisure in the study of anatomy, Paré stood in the forefront of a medicine contrasting with that of Paracelsus (though, like his older German counterpart, Paré wrote in the vernacular, believed in monsters, and knew that nature could heal wounds without drastic interventions by the practitioner).

Another figure of this century was closer to Paracelsus's dual proccupations with religion and medicine: Miguel Servetus (1511-1553). Servetus was the tragic critic of the trinitarian doctrine who was burned at the stake for this heresy in Calvin's Geneva. Denying that a divisibly threefold vital spirit inhabits the human organism, and stimulated also by his awareness that in Hebrew the word for spirit also signifies air, Servetus arrived at the discovery of the circulation of blood through the lungs, in a work completed around the time of Paracelsus's death bearing the title Restitutio Christianismi.49Like Paracelsus, Servetus was an individualist who distanced himself from the Catholic and Protestant camps of his time. Like him, he adhered to the belief in Christ's real presence in the Eucharist. But where Paracelsus insisted on the triadic structure of human being and of nature in the image of the triune Creator, Servetus's skeptical critique of trinitarian doctrine went hand in hand with an innovative study of the inner organic workings of life. Like Servetus, Paracelsus was a theologian-physician. Unlike him, theology did not orient the more renowned physician toward the observable structures of the body.

Servetus could only achieve his discovery as an experienced student of dissection. As such, he stood in the most productive current of sixteenth-century medicine, the century that brought forth Vesalius's great anatomical compendium De Humani Corporis Machina, published in 1543 by Paracelsus's erstwhile amanuensis Oporinus. The new anatomical studies proceeded from a critical

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reediting and revaluation of Galen's ancient writings. It was discovered around this time that these had been based on animal anatomy. The judgment of Paracelsus is quite as firm in regard to the close study of the human body as it is in reference to the study of Galen: he condemns the new approach as folly, but at the same time he appropriates the term anatomy, applying it not to the interior of the body but to his own theoretical framework of mystical correspondences, reflecting the image of the Creator:

all things stand in the image. That is, all things are formed. In this image [or form] lies anatomy. The human being is formed, his image is his anatomy which the physician must know. For thus, too, there are the anatomies of diseases.

alle ding in dem bild stent. das ist alle ding sind gebildet. in diser biltnus ligt die anatomei. der mensch ist gebildet; sein biltnus ist die anatomei, einem arzt voraus notwendig zuwissen. dan also seind auch anatomien der krankheiten. (I,9:62)

Sixteenth-century critics recognized that Paracelsus was opposed to Renaissance anatomy. 50 His substitution of his own mystical anatomy rendered observational or diagnostic experience at best imprecise and at worst utterly fancifulindeed, rendered the very term experience questionable as employed by this ardent adherent of supernatural phenomena.

As Goldammer has stated, Paracelsus's outlook was in many respects medieval.51The image correspondences of macrocosm and microcosm are bound up with the medieval understanding of analogy and symbol, derived from a concept of analogia entis and closely intertwined with the spiritual sense of the Bible. The medieval doctrine of the fourfold meaning of Scripture was undermined by the Lutheran Reformation; Paracelsus reconstructed his symbolic vision of nature in part with remnants of a medieval biblicistic authority. Compared to the most advanced cosmologies of the late Middle Ages, nature in Paracelsus's Astronomia Magna represents a return to biblical authority. In this, the physician was not so much an anti-Luther as a variant Luther, a Lutherus medicorum.

The Faustian image of Paracelsus, reiterated throughout so much of the German literature, not only subordinates him in the

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popular conception to a Renaissance which seems to contrast with what we understand by the Reformation; it also affects the way in which his writings are classified, subdivided, and even dated. As a result, the religious components of his writing are perennially segregated and underestimated. A very long, halting process has restored an understanding of his religious profile. In the late sixteenth century, the compiler of the first extensive edition of Paracelsus is said to have excluded his religious writings to avoid risking the sponsorship of the archbishop of Cologne. 52Manuscripts as well as imitations circulated. The religious influence of Paracelsus survived in the works of Valentin Weigel and Jacob Boehme, in the writings of despised ''enthusiasts," or in Pietists, who transmitted a knowledge of his mystical theory to Goethe and the Romantics. During the nineteenth century, the scholarly recovery of the theology of Paracelsus began in 1839 with Preus's collection of his religious pronouncements.53 The founder of modern Paracelsus scholarship, Karl Sudhoff, stressed the medical side to the detriment of the religious; but, to his lasting credit, he helped initiate the edition of the religious works by collecting them and encouraging scholars of religion to undertake their publication. While Sudhoff was still carrying out the monumental task of examining the writings attributed to Paracelsus in order to publish the medical-naturalistic work, a younger collaborator, Wilhelm Matthießen, was encouraged to begin editing the theological writings. One volume was published in 1923.54However, Matthießen's early death and the difficulties of the editing process prevented the continuation of the second division. Publication could not be resumed until Kurt Goldammer took up the effort after World War II. Even today, the division of the religious writings is only about half finished, after nearly a century of attention.

During much of this time, there was no lack of interest in the non-scientific aspect of Paracelsus. The period around the turn of the century brought a wave of fresh curiosity regarding the varieties of mysticism, occultism, and ecstatic experience. This gave rise to the Paracelsus studies of Franz Hartmann and the Anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner, as well as a Paracelsus-inspired revival of mystical nature philosophy by Professor Karl Joël.55The so-called Expressionistic decade (1910-1920) intensified the interest in religious mysticism with works such as Martin Buber's dissertation on Boehme or his Ecstatic Confessions, dramatizing the experiences of

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mystics and visionaries. This excitement was undoubtedly a mixed blessing for Paracelsus scholars. Given the rational viewpoint maintained by Sudhoff, the orientation toward the mystical and the occult threatened to undermine the scientific stature of Paracelsus, lowering his status as an object of scholarship.

Against this trend, Matthießen's dissertation on Die Form des religiösen Verhaltens bei Theophrast von Hohenheim at the University of Bonn, published in 1917, tried to clear Paracelsus of disagreeable associations with an irrational mysticism. 56If anything, the character and importance of the religious elements in Paracelsus now became somewhat clouded and marginalized within the interpretations of serious scholars. In 1935, Bodo Sartorius Freiherr von Waltershausen convincingly argued for Paracelsus's affinity with the Protestant Spiritualists who had followed the lead of Luther's rejection of Scholastic authority by rejecting a new Lutheran Scholasticism and authoritarianism founded on the outer "letter" of Scripture: Mit den Autoritaten verwirft [Paracelsus] nun auch die Tradition; er entwertet sie zur Menschenlehre, zur Lehre des Buchstabens. Unfamiliar with the scope and importance of the theological writings of Paracelsus, Waltershausen erroneously asserted that their author had viewed them as an "extraneous work" (Außenwerk), for which no expertise comparable to that of the philosophical work was claimed.57In 1937, the devout Catholic scholar Franz Strunz correctly, if somewhat tendentiously, revised the assessment of Waltershausen by proving that Paracelsus's assertions of natural knowledge rested on faith and divine authority: "Religion is the real and essential principle of natural understanding and action" (Die Religion ist das eigentliche und wesentliche Prinzip des natürlichen Erkennens und Handelns).58This was a turning point in Paracelsus scholarship: the religious writings were not only important in their own right; they were essential to the work as a whole. Similar in significance were Wilhelm Ganzenmüller's researches into medieval and Paracelsian alchemy, demonstrating that pre-Paracelsian alchemy was in its main currents devout and that his adaptation followed in the pious tradition.59In their own different ways, Strunz and Ganzenmüller laid the groundwork for an integrated understanding of Paracelsus: Strunz by showing that the authority of the naturalist and of the religionist was indivisible; Ganzenmüller by establishing that even what seemed an empirical element in Paracelsus's experience, his alchemical experimentation, was, in its theoretical

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sources, medieval and devout. After the war, dissertations on Paracelsus's religious work were written by Stephan Törok and Michael Bunners. 60

However, by far the most substantial revision has come about through the lifelong work of Prof. Kurt Goldammer in preparing the second division of the complete writings. His contributions to Paracelsus research also include many books and trailblazing articles cited in this study. Among the more recent scholars who have further explored the ground broken by Goldammer, and whose works were of particular interest in considering the theme of this study, are Ernst Wilhelm Kämmerer, who has written on the trichotomous anthropology of Paracelsus; Hartmut Rudolph, on the trinitarian doctrine of Paracelsus, his biblical exegesis, and his relation to other religious doctrines of the period; Arlene Miller-Guinsburg, who has investigated the Matthew commentaries in connection with the magic of Paracelsus; Katharina Biegger, who has examined the mariology of the Salzburg writings, as well as the ambiguous position of Paracelsus between the confessions of his period; and Ute Gause, who has comprehensively considered the theological evolution of the early religious writings. These studies offer the only readily accessible glimpses into the still unedited religious works.

This study has been written without a first-hand knowledge of the manuscript materials awaiting publication in the second division, and hence can claim to be neither comprehensive nor conclusive. Certainly it would have been preferable otherwise. Nevertheless, the view from this distance in examining the great mass of published primary and secondary materials does bring out some questions and inconsistencies that seem to have escaped the notice of those more directly involved. These questions concern the dating of Paracelsus's work, especially the earlier writings, the fragments, and the undated materials in the second division. The problem of dating his writings is especially important here, because, to some extent, a doubtful periodization recapitulates the old divorce between the religious and medical-philosophical Paracelsus.

Notwithstanding the cautionary intimations of Goldammer, Rudolph, Gause, and otherssuggesting that Paracelsus was either more religiously engaged, or more "medieval" than had previously been assumeda vestige of the old scientific/mystical split has been conserved not only by the organization of his works into the two

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divisions (an organization valid for parts of his work, yet misleading for the whole), but, just as importantly, by the assumption that his life alternated between divergent engagements, between his major medical-philosophical preoccupation and a minor religious one. If one considers the widely accepted progression of his career as an author, it is presumed to have begun around 1520 with a first naturalistic phase. This is followed in 1524-1525 by the relatively brief but intensive religious interlude in Salzburg. After this, he continues as a naturalist, but with a concurrent religious phase of writing in the early 1530s, when he is attracted to the thinking of the religious outcasts of the period. This is followed at last by the ultimate period of the Astronomia Magna and the Carinthian writings addressed to Catholic men of influence in Austria. The last years include some of his most conceptually ambitious and programmatic tracts, as well as, again, some religious writing. It is a period concluded by his untimely death in 1541, a death thought by some to have prevented him from articulating the full system of his speculative thought.

This is the biography of a naturalist who merely reacts to extraneous concurrent developments in the Reformation. Instead of this biography, with its medical-scientific continuity and its bracketed periods of religion, we should reverse the relation and recognize that the naturalism of Paracelsus turns on a religious center from the very beginning. The brackets are in reality the comprehensive context. First of all, there is no evidence at all to suggest that he really had his often-cited early naturalistic phase of writing around 1520, prior to the religious period in Salzburg, which therefore may well have been his seminal period as a writer and thinker. Second, the presupposition that Paracelsus's religious writing was episodic is groundless. And, finally, as I will argue in the main part of this study, no aspect of his work can be understood rationally without considering his religious- theoretical premises, as conditioned by the crisis of the early Reformation. If a complete study of his authorial development is ever undertaken, it will need to evaluate his work by comparing alternate drafts of the same tract and successive treatments of the same theme. On the same grounds, it will be necessary to reassess the temporal beginning of his work, as represented in the above commonplace periodization of his writings.

Based on not much more than the editorial circumstance that Sudhoff chose to place the very approximate date um 1520, "around

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1520," at the fore of volume one of the first division, published in 1929, Paracelsus scholarship has continued to hold the notion that around that time the young Theophrastus, returning from his journeyman years, initiated his authorial career with works in a medical-philosophical vein. Indeed, the studies that emphasize his scientific profile often stiffen Sudhoff's approximation into a definitive "of 1520." This dating suggests that by 1524 the scientific- medical enterprise was well underway even before being briefly interrupted by the Salzburg lapse, during which external events involved Paracelsus with religious questions. The thesis of an early period of medical-philosophical writing purports to identify the point of departure of Paracelsus's work. However, the date 1520 is usually simply taken for granted; and not only by those with a scientific approach: even studies of his religious work assume that he began writing around the year 1520, perhaps while still wandering through Europe. 61

However, this early period of medical-philosophical writing, beginning around 1520 and presumably lasting until 1524, appears to be based on a conjecture to which even the acknowledged master of scientific Paracelsus studies, Sudhoff himself, did not adhere with any precision or consistency. In Julius Pagel's Geschichte der Medizin, which Sudhoff reedited and published in 1922, the discussion of Paracelsus envisages a very different time frame:

Full of great conceptions, he began already in the first half of the Twenties, probably already in 1524 in Salzburg, his authorial elaborations, with a great pathological-therapeutic work, which was to treat related

groups of diseases in individual sections; only fragments of it have survived

Alongside this, an outline of

the great etiology of diseases was composed in one great endeavor, in grandiose conception and compelling

enthusiasm.

Großer Konzeptionen voll, hat er schon in der ersten Hälfte der zwanziger Jahre des 16. Jahrhunderts, wohl schon 1524 in Salzburg, seine schriftstellerischen Ausarbeitungen begonnen mit einem großen pathologisch-therapeutischen Werke, das in einzelnen Abschnitten zusammengehörige Krankheitsgruppen

behalten sollte; nur Fragmente davon sind uns erhalten

Abriß der gesamten Krankheitsätiologie verfaßt, in grandioser Konsequenz und drängender

Begeisterung.62

Daneben wurde in einem großen Wurfe ein

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The pathological-therapeutic work is presumably the one known as the Eleven Treatises (which is associated here with other works that Sudhoff later ascribed to a subsequent period); the "great" attempt at a "comprehensive etiology" is that of the so-called Volumen Paramirum which, judging by its contents, could indeed be one of the very earliest writings. Here, however, this early work is placed no earlier than Salzburg, 1524, thus contradicting the date um 1520 offered in volume one of Sudhoff's own first division. There is in fact a glaring contradiction between the dating in the collected works and the formulations submitted by Sudhoff here and elsewhere.

Sudhoff's Paracelsus biography of 1936a study with the announced purpose of eliminating the romantic accretions to the image of Paracelsus, and in a sense Sudhoff's last testament to Paracelsus studiesstates the matter again very

differently: the "treatises on the origin, causes, signs, and cures of individual diseases" (the Eleven Treatises), are said to belong, together with some pharmacological drafts, to "the very earliest times [!] of Hohenheimian intellectual activity" (in die allerfrühesten Zeiten Hohenheimscher Geistesarbeit):all of these undertakings were already alive in mind at the time of the "first Paramirum" (the Volumen Paramirum); and Sudhoff would perhaps add some "chemical-alchemical preparations." As for the date, Sudhoff concludes: "But I would prefer to put all

this writing in the year 1526'' (Besser aber will ich dies ganze Schriftwerk erst ins Jahr 1526 verweisen

Well, because it was during this period of wandering on the Upper Rhine that Paracelsus was "veritably stormed by such impulses which he willingly accomodated as a man given to the observation and experience of nature" (denn dort stürmten solche Anregungen förmlich auf ihn ein, denen er als Mann der Naturbeobachtung und -erfahrung willig Raum gab). 63What is decisive for us here is that the last word submitted by this great Paracelsus scholar displays no loyalty whatsoever to the period "around 1520." In fact, he expressly disavows the possibility of finding any proof that the contents of volumes one and two were composed prior to 1526: "Whether something of the early writing of Hohenheim which is found in volume one or two of my edition was worked out in the time of the first stay in Salzburg, or, as is to be expected, even prior to that, cannot be said with certainty" (Ob irgend etwas von dem frühen Schriftwerke Hohenheims, das sich im ersten oder zweiten Bande meiner Ausgabe findet, in den Zeiten des

.). Why?

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ersten Salzburger Aufenthaltes, oder sogar schon vorher, konzipiert oder gar ausgearbeitet wurde, wie zu vermuten steht, läßt sich nicht mit Bestimmtheit behaupten). 64

By Sudhoff's final assessment, then, the Eleven Treatises belong to the "earliest" period, which it is best to identify with the time on the Upper Rhine, the interval between Salzburg and Basel. The work of "around 1520" has therefore been displaced by half a decade to the year 1526. This is hard to fathom, inasmuch as the Salzburg religious writings bear dates as early as 1524 and 1525. Sudhoff apparently blotted out the religious tracts that did not fit into his preconceived opinion of Paracelsus as a Renaissance philosopher-physician. Even more perplexing is the fact that one of the Eleven TreatiseswhichSudhoff, despite his other vacillations, still places at the very beginning of Paracelsus's intellectual laborscontains a passage that almost certainly identifies this writing with the period in or after Basel (1527-28). The passage instructs:

If one wants to be a city physician, a lecturer, and professor ordinarius, one should have the appropriate abilities. These [people], however, inasmuch as some of them are lazy from pedantry and others puffed up in rhetoric, [and] the other accustomed to [telling] lies in poetry and so on with other philistinism [schützerei]; so being that way, they can't be any different than the way the letters make them, which make many a fool more.

So einer iedoch wil ein stattarzt, ein lector und professor ordinarius, so sol er können, das im zustat. dise aber, dieweil etliche in schulmeisterei erfault sind, andere in der rhetoric verschwollen, der ander in der poeterei mit liegen gewont und dergleichen mit anderer schützerei; so mügen sie nit anderst sein, dan wie sich die buchstaben machen, die manchen narren mer machen. (I,1:150)

This passage cannot have been written prior to 1527, for it spells out the job qualifications of Paracelsus's position in Basel, with a jaundiced diatribe against his academic detractors in that city. There was no university in Salzburg or in Strasbourg (where he took rights of citizenship, apparently in anticipation of permanent residence there, before being summoned to Basel). Moreover, this passage reflects the antagonisms that led to his flight from Basel in 1528. As

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we shall see, this diatribe resembles so closely those of the post-Basel period that it would be farfetched to imagine it as based on some similar, yet unknown and otherwise forgotten episode. The dating of Paracelsus's seminal works is a time-honored shambles.

Now of course one could ask: does it really matter whether Paracelsus is thought to have begun writing in 1520 or in 1524?Does it matter whether we imagine him taking this first step as an author in an attempt to evaluate all the information gleaned from countless observations and consultations on his travels in Europe? Oras harried by sectarian quarrels and struggles in a situation which was compelling him to take sides and define his ideas? To even ask such a question is to recognize at once that it matters immensely. It matters, not least of all because the scenario of 1520 provides us a meager access to the writings in volumes one and two of the first division. (Where are all those observations based on his journeys?) The scenario of a beginning in 1524, by contrast, refers us to anomalous characteristics in what is thought to be the earliest medical-philosophical writing: to the disputes of competing medical "sects" in the so-called Volumen Paramirum, and to the attempted resolution of the battle of these competing sects through a criterion of divine agency.

Even when the writings in the first two volumes of division one seem to embody allusions to his empirical observations during his travelsfor example, in his references to the diversity of diseases and medicinal herbs from country to country: "Each land grows its own disease, its own medicine, its own physician (einem ieglichen lant wechst sein krankheit selbs, sein arznei selbs, sein arzt selbsI,2:4)the larger context fails to support such a conclusion. For his point here is that people need not rely upon herbs and medicines of other countries. The long and short of his familiarity with other lands, diseases, and medicines is that German diseases are different and German medicines as good or better. Arabia, Chaldea, Persia, Greece, Gallia, and, most especially, Italy are trying "to turn us Germans into Latins" (machen aus uns Teutschen Walen), doing so for selfish reasons and not from "brotherly love" (I,2:3)this was a common German sentiment, characteristic of the early Reformation. But its nationalistic stand is anomalous in a work on medicine. What, after all, can the healing powers of herbs have to do with the relative merits of nations? Given the atmosphere of the early Reformation, the association of healing with salvation was an obvious one. In an

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allegory attributed to Lazarus Spengler of Nuremberg, the power to heal the body was a transparent metaphor for the power to heal the soul: in the Dialogue at the Apothecary Shop (1521). 65 The nationalism of Paracelsus's early Herbarius-fragment recalls the Salzburg religious polemic of 1525 against Italian opponents ("Valentio und Remigio Italis"), submitted by one "Theophrastis Hohenheimensis Germanus" (II,3:3).

Not only does the pre-Salzburg period of writing lack for evidence, not only are the Salzburg religious writings part of his earliest recorded period; much of the etiological work that Sudhoff took to be the very earliest (the Eleven Treatises and the fragments on gout) is of the late 1520s: it is transitional, not initial, work. Indeed, most of the

medical-theoretical work is as much religious as scientific. The Archidoxa is a case in point. Sudhoff's edition dates

it 1526, and there is internal evidence to support this: as Hooykaas noted, its discussion of the elements contains no

reference to the concept of the three primary things, salt, mercury, and sulphur, so constant in many of the writings of the mature philosopher.66 Nevertheless, although in its main exposé it tersely lists numerous alchemical recipes and their medicinal applications, this work is prefaced and purposed by theological questions: it is concerned with knowledge of God. Nearly all of the early writings, even when they are preoccupied with worldly existence and disease, remain open to a metaphysical perspective that contextualizes everything and entirely overshadows what is known through observationas in the fragments on gout in volume one of Sudhoff's edition, where Paracelsus's disquisition leaps from the discussion of the disease to the contemplation of the eternal sources of creation.

The mature programmatic writings of the late 1530s merely provide this mixture of nature philosophy and theology

a more integrated form. In the Labyrinthus Medicorum Errantium (1538), medicine is a gift of divine illumination.

In the compendious, late fragment Astronomia Magna, it is impossible to separate the medical-philosophical from the theological. The distinction is altogether arbitrary: anthropology and divinity are inextricably mixed throughout. Neither the category of "Renaissance science" nor that of "lay theology" fits. One would do better to employ his own term theorica to designate a speculative enterprise which defies such divisions. Goldammer and the other scholars associated with the second division of Paracelsus's works have made a commendable attempt at

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establishing the sequence of the undated religious and social or ethical writings, assigning many of them to the early 1530s. But much of the evidence based on similarities of theme and language appears inconclusive. The longest of the works, the commentary on the Psalms, bears the date of July 12, 1530; but as Goldammer has established, this is in the preface to the second part of the work; 67the first extant part and another, probably lost, could well extend the process of composition years back in time. It is true that Paracelsus after 1530 was an outcast, seeking guidance in faith, who may indeed have felt more kinship with impoverished roaming religious exiles than with the Humanists and magisterial reformers who had shunned him in city after city, but was he less the outcast in 1526 or 1528? In any case, the tendency of newer scholarship has been to find more religious writing throughout his lifetime.68De secretis secretorum theologiae Theophrasti, which Goldammer regards as a "late work" (II,3:XXIX), states that the author now looks back upon "twenty years" of "Evangelical church wars" (in diesen euangelischen kirchen kriegen, so in zweinzigjaren geschehen seindt); the tract also alludes to the author's having begun the work of the treatise "in the 20s" (in diesem werk, in dem ich nun in die 20 jar angefangen und gearbeitet habII,3:225,167). Whether 20 jar means twenty years ago or means during the twenties of his century, it verifies in either event that he exercised a religious authorship at the beginning and end of his authorial career. Even during his Basel sojournin which one could suspect an exclusive medical-philosophical engagementthere is some evidence of a religious activity. A medical tract from Colmar (June 1528) recollects the betrayals of Paracelsus by those in Basel who had "received their religion from me'' (ir religion von mir empfangenI,6:319).

What is decisive is not the number of religious or social-ethical works written during the early 1530s, but the conception of his authorial career as a whole. Even if there should have been a phase of religious writing in the early 1530s, the premise of this study would remain intact: Paracelsus's formative period as an author coincided with the turmoils of the early Reformation (which had begun soon after the publication of Luther's Ninety-five theses in 1517). We are confronted with an interval perhaps as brief as six or seven years. It is bounded by the Salzburg writings on the one hand and by the increasingly mature (that is, more clearly composed and more extensive) writings of the 1530s on the other. The denouement

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of this foundational period is represented by the works of 1530 and 1531, which bear the prefix Para- in their titles. Long heralded by his allusions to the coming "paramiran" works, these are the writings that confirmed Theophrastus as Paracelsus. The works of the 1520s and early 1530s reveal the making of the self-made man more clearly than do all the fanciful considerations of travels and collected observations.

The outline of Paracelsus's writings after 1534 is somewhat clearer. Inasmuch as the later theoretical works and the medical books published after 1535 (The Great Wound-Surgery)are more deliberately executed, more studied in design and often calmer in tone, there are grounds for regarding his last six or seven years as a mature period, in contrast with the turbulent formative years under consideration in this study. The earlier years are the epoch in which his theories were forged. I will argue that this occurred under the decisive impact of the early Reformation, to which the thirty-year old Theophrastus responded with radical polemical writings during his early, stormy sojourn in Salzburg. Of course, throughout his entire career, the writer and thinker reacted to many distinct situations and stimuli with writings of various kinds. Yet neither the Salzburg religious writings nor those attributed to the early 1530s represent isolated interludes in his career. If the precise dating of some of his early works is inconclusive, his early, formative writing certainly coincided with a religious authorship that was set aside, if at all, only during and right after his official activity in Basel. I will argue as well that the "medical- philosophical" work of the period around 1530 incorporates and interprets iconoclastic religious tenets first expressed in Salzburg. The theories that result from this seminal period are then expressed, a bit more calmly and systematically, in the mature works, where once again the distinction between his medical and religious authorship proves quite illusory. This distinction may be valid to the extent that the writings of the second division are religious or social in theme, and also to the extent that certain of the writings in the first division (such as those on surgery) are almost exclusively medical. But the distinction is quite misleading for many of the characteristic medical-philosophical or naturalistic writings in division one. Many of these works are hardly less religious.

It should of course be admitted in any discussion that no scholar can reasonably claim that we possess a complete inventory of

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Paracelsus's religious or nonreligious writings. He alludes to many titles of unknown works or projects. Even after Sudhoff completed his bibliographic and editorial work, many manuscripts have been discovered. Sudhoff reproduced a kind of advertisement of unspecified date, sent out to publicize and presumably create a market. Among the writings advertised is "Archidoxa, in which [Paracelsus] teaches how to separate the pure from the impure" (Archidoxa, in dem er lehret, das rein vom unreinen zu scheiden); this known book is advertised as the companion piece to an unknown religious work "Parasarchum, in which he treats of the highest good in eternity" (Parasarchum, in welchem er de summo bono in aeternitate tractirt). Though this is the only patently spiritual book, the advertisement claims, quite astonishingly, that "the great Paracelsus'' is author to no less than 230 books on philosophy (a subject which in his time was rarely secular), forty on medicine, twelve "de republica," seven on mathematics or astronomy, and sixty-six on the occult or secret arts (von verborgenen und heimlichen Künsten). The advertisement avers that there is a young man in Germany without equal in the entire world. Either his gift is a stellar influence or it comes from the Holy Spirit, orwith an intimation Paracelsus would hardly have proffered on his ownit comes from the evil spirits. In all events, the promoter of his books cannot remember ever having read more learned writings; he commends them to the recipient of the letter with the counsel to esteem them more highly than the books of the ancients. 69

In addition to the periodization of the religious writings, another sort of bracketing prevents an integrated understanding of Paracelsus and his times: the customary tendency to disregard his fierce diatribes, as if these were somehow extraneous to the development of his thinking, a mere function of his personality, or perhaps a justifiable reaction to the hard knocks suffered by a misunderstood genius. I will argue here that these frequent diatribes are quite essential to the evolution of his thinking. His anger exposes the generation of his theories out of conflict, from struggles in which fundamental issues touching his theology as well as his medicine were being debated and fought over.

In the writings on divine and those on natural matters, the author reacts to real and perceived challenges to his authority with desperate flights of rage and vituperation. In tracts of either division, his diatribes and tirades appear to give impetus and direction

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to his thought by compelling him to hammer down the uniqueness of his concepts. The great tirades of Paracelsus are prodigious feats. They convey a forgotten determinant of his intellectual activity: the raw force that was expressed in the conflicts of his time even in disputes over matters of sublime doctrine. During the years of his emergence as an author, the Reformation was passing through the decisive crises of the Peasant War, and of the debates of Luther with Karlstadt, Müntzer, Erasmus, and Schwenckfeld.

The Lutheran Reformation, with its doctrinal separation of the "two kingdoms," envisaged a new realm of justice, love, and fellowship. Yet even among the ranks of the faithful, disputes could retain the old aspect of a grim trial by combat, resolved by mental and physical prowess and summarily damning by outcome the weakness of the loser or the isolation of the outcast. One can recognize this in Luther's fulminations against rebellious peasants like those who took up arms during Paracelsus's early stay in Salzburg; or one can observe it in the verbal violence of Luther's dispute with Karlstadt, which happened to coincide with Paracelsus's turbulent time in Salzburg, Strasbourg, and Basel.

In a dramatic scene in August 1524, Luther rebukes his senior academic colleague (whose radical "Wittenberg movement" of 1522 had aggressively espoused doctrines subsequently adopted by Luther himself). The indicted miscreant, Luther charges, is on the side of Thomas Müntzer and of the murderous peasants; he has shown vile ingratitude toward their prince and protector. 70 Karlstadt refuses to abandon his positions. Luther challenges him to write his disagreements and then hands his opponent a gold coin, symbolically authorizing him to go forth and take up the challenge. But no sooner does Karlstadt begin to respond thus in writing than he receives an order of banishment from Saxony. Further radicalized by banishment, Karlstadt flees to Basel and Strasbourg. In the latter city, his views soon found favor among leading reformerssparking a controversy that was still in progress when Paracelsus arrived in the city a few years later. Luther counterattacks in 1525 with his two-part treatise, Against the Heavenly Prophets. Even his sympathizers are taken aback by the brutality of his insinuations: "Therefore, I have said that Dr. Karlstadt is not a murderous prophet, but he has a rebellious, murderous, mob spirit in him, that would come out if it had the opportunity" (Darumb hab ich wol gesagt, D. Carlstad ist nicht eyn mörderischer prophet, Er hat aber

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eynen auffrürischen, mörderischen, rottischen geyst bey sich, der wol eraus fure, wenn er raum hette). 71By May 1525, the dispute has become so notorious that Agrippa von Nettesheim writes from Lyon that he has read the first part of Luther's tract and is eager to get hold of the second.72Such disputes, in which argumentation relied on pious intuitions of truth, and defeat could result in exile or death, convey something significant about the social environment, and no doubt also the conceptual purposes, of Paracelsus's writings.

His great haranguing tirades express the violent tensions of his time. His most central and most characteristic theories take shape amidst these harangues. Their heat molds the coherence and infuses the assurance of his writings on all themes. In an earlier disdainful reception of Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, his name was construed by false etymology as the root of "bombastic." To cleanse him of this undeserved odor of a bombastic mountebank, scholars who should have known better ignored or rationalized his tirades as expressions of temperament. Every harangue against hostile apothecaries, physicians, or vendors of guaiac wood was hailed as a salutary reaction against venality and incompetence. Rarely was any effort made to substantiate the vitriolic charges, and when evidence did indicate that his opponents were not all such reactionary fools (for example, that the Augsburg Fuggers whom Paracelsus accused of profiteering from the import of guiac wood actually stood to profit far more by supplying the mercury cure favored by the enraged accuser73), the findings had hardly any impact on the idolization of Paracelsus. Ironically, even his insupportable claim to hold Luther's title of "doctor of Holy Scripture" would be interpreted as a confirmation of Paracelsus's sincere spirituality. On the whole, his most fervent defenders have either ignored dissenting voices, or simply subtracted any negative findings from the tally of merits in order to present the balance with undiminished enthusiasm.

An outsider to the circle of Paracelsus' scholarship cannot help but wonder whether the outrageous boasts and bouts of rage made him an intimidating subject for the German academic scholars who studied him. Could scholars educated at humanistic Gymnasien and trained in the cool methods of wissenschaftliche Arbeit have relished his

execrations to "shit on your Pliny, Aristotle, your Albertus, Thomas, Scotus

scheißen, auf eureren Albertum, Thomam, Scotum etc.

." (auf eueren Plinium, Aristotelem

.I,8:138)?

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Could it suffice to verify that the men Paracelsus claimed as his educated mentors existed in history (or that he was contemporaneous with Paré or Vesalius) in order to reclaim this obdurate nay-sayer for their humanistic tradition? Did such rationalizations vitiate the perception of him as a flesh and blood creature? Have scholarly specialization and tradition prevented Goldammer and his students from demolishing the myth of a secular-empirical Paracelsus, a myth undermined by, yet still required to dignify, their excavations? How complex was his assigned role as the true Renaissance prototype of Goethe's Faustian Bildungsideal?Did German intellectuals half-consciously hope to confirm that, no matter how dark things seemed, progress was inevitable? In any such perspective, the obscure figure making his way across the rim of die Neuzeit must have towered up larger than life and moved straight toward the observeras founder, ally, precursor, or disreputable forebear.

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2

Plague and Salvation

Most of Paracelsus's writings are fragmentary, difficult to read, and even more difficult to categorize. We should begin by inquiring after the preconditions of these writings which were so confidently composed and dictated in the vernacular, as if their author were in a position to solve all the deep mysteries of God and the universe by means of an impromptu discourse.

The century before Paracelsus had known great speculative constructs that combined mysticism with philosophy and touched on almost every domain of nature and learning including medicine, the Latin works of the cardinal and liberal-minded intellectual, Nicholas Cusanus (1401-1464), a German who was like Paracelsus a man of humble origin, broad interests, and bold concepts. Among his many achievements, Cusanus championed lay knowledge against the scholastically learned and submitted a theoretical rationale for weighing and measuring objects of inquiry. In the philosophy of Cusanus, there are some similarities to Paracelsus in the centrality of the notion of creation and creature as images of the divine Creator, in the dual concepts of macrocosm and microcosm, in the perception that finite things are irreducibly individual, and in the emphasis on the authority of a lay knowledge, which, for Cusanus as well as Paracelsus, has mystical overtones. However, the cardinal's ability to conceptualize and synthesize compares with the physician's as the open architecture of a Renaissance metropolis might compare with some fanciful but inscrutable clustering of huts.

Cusanus was the mathematician-philosopher of the infinite unity. His universe was immeasurably broader and exponentially more abstract than the world egg of Paracelsus. Cusanus was a man comfortable among the great and powerful, erudite, and filled with deep devotion to the unity of Church and Christendom. It is at least possible, if not certain, that Paracelsus knew of him. In any event, their speculative common ground was attained from opposite points

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of departure. Cusanus came from the heights of the universities and from his private intellectual avocations. His extraordinarily diverse sources were usually acknowledged. By contrast, Paracelsus disavowed the erudition of the past and groped to the common ground he shared with Cusanus by way of the depths, by tapping traditions far more obscure, popular, and difficult to identify. Cusanus's writings convey a serene calm. He knew the conflicts of his time, but exorcised them by means of his speculative construct of the coincidence of opposites in God. For Paracelsus, one suspects, this last great medieval synthesis would have been meaningless. Instead of calm, the atmosphere of his writing bespeaks a teeming anxiety: fear of diseases old and new, fear of the poisons that pervade everything in nature, fear of succubi, incubi, and other monsters, fear of war, violence, and false accusation, and not least of all, fear of ridicule.

The possibility of Paracelsus's writingsoriginal treatises in the language of the people, combining medicine, nature, philosophy, and alchemy with religious and social preoccupationsresides in the coincidence of several developments. His work is conceivable because the traditional learned profession of medicine, with its eternal problems of disease and death, met with new circumstances which undermined the distinctions of the lay and the learned, of the medical and the theological. In this chapter, I will attempt to counter the thesis that Paracelsus's theories presuppose a new empirical "experience." I will argue that his authorship can be understood more plausibly as the late outgrowth of a flourishing growth industry of vernacular medical writingan area in which the hundred-fifty-year-old tradition of the plague treatise had proven particularly fertile. If the intensely cultivated field of plague theory was wide open to popular initiatives, it was also soon to be highlighted and theologically contextualized by crises of faith. The combined impact of the medical tradition and the religious crisis is registered in what appears to be the earliest Paracelsian medical writing, the so-called Volumen Paramirum.

The medicine that dominated the Middle Ages was that of the ancient physician and philosopher Galen. As commonly understood, this medicine treated all illnesses as imbalances among the four humors, the sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholy. The humors were in turn constituted by the elements of air, water, fire, and earth. Attuned to the balance of elements, Galenic medicine

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simplified the conception of illness. Guided by the universal humors, it could not address specific diseases as specific, but instead tended to treat a generalized patient who differed from other patients only in the complexion of the universal humors.

To Paracelsus and later sixteenth-century critics, Galenic medicine and its remedies appeared superficial and false. This was so in part because Scholastic philosophy was coming under challenge. In the diatribes of Paracelsus, the name of Galen sometimes occurs along with that of Aristotle. During the early Reformation, Aristotle was under attack from two standpointsthat of Neoplatonism and that of Holy Scripture. Paracelsus rejects the authority of Aristotle with the same categorical insistence with which he exalts biblical authority. It would be difficult to construe his few remarks on Plato as the ground for a studied philosophical anti-Aristotelianism. Though the word of God is not quoted specifically against Aristotle, it is evident that the Bible supported Paracelsus's opinions in their sharpest antischolasticism. Not the heathen philosopher but Holy Writ confirms Paracelsus's profound belief that nature is not eternal, but rather limited by a time imposed by its Creator and Redeemer. The theoretical physician extended his vision of a cosmos, which appears as if bounded by and carried in time, to the elaboration of a new medicine that individualizes life, health, and disease, and even envisages an evolution of diseases.

For the duration of a century and a half before Paracelsus's time, humoral medicine had already faced its gravest challenge in the form of plague epidemics. 74The plague devastated medieval Europe in the Black Death of 1348- 1350, a disaster regarded by some historians as the most catastrophic in European history. It has been said that plague became a driving force in European history. Plague depressed late-medieval agriculture by reducing the urban market populations, thereby compelling peasants to move to cities where wealth became increasingly concentrated in the hands of the survivors. This concentration of wealth and labor is thought to have diversified urban economies.75Moreover, plague epidemics undermined Church authority: priests abandoned congregations; all supplications failed; and divine punishment was visited upon the righteous no less than the wicked. By undermining ecclesiastic authority, epidemics set the stage for the Reformation of Luther, whose theological rejection of merits in favor of faiththe sole recourse in a world ruled by Satanresponded more convincingly to the inexorable menace of

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mass death. A cliché of cultural history portrays the end of the Middle Ages as symbolized by the all- encompassing Dance of Deaththe dark backdrop for the bright optimism and energy of the dawning Renaissance.

In fact, the late fifteenth century ushered in a new epoch of epidemic disease. 76New strains of bubonic plague were joined by the epidemic spread of syphilis, a malady so unprecedented and quick-spreading that Emperor Maximilian presented it as a sign of God's judgment on the world.77The growth of urban centers, the increasing size of armies, and the movement of goods, merchants, mercenaries, and other travellers were conducive to the spread of disease. In 1519, as much as a third of the population of Zurich was decimated by a plague epidemic. While convalescing from near death, Zwingli composed a devotional plague song, ascribing all power to the divine will. Upon recovering, he set about guiding his city from the old faith to the new.78

In 1525, the Upper Lusatian city of Görlitz was stricken by a plague epidemic. The wealthy ruling burghers fled the city to the safety of the countryside. In their absence, a local priest comforted his abandoned parishioners by preaching the new doctrine of salvation by faith alone, thereby initiating their conversion to the Lutheran creed. The old faith to which the city fathers clung had built shrines and chapels; this was now discredited as the false doctrine of good works. The new faith and its minister consoled the people in their hour of need.79

If disease was but one among many terrors of collective and individual existence to which the new faith addressed its winning message of hope, it was one that disclosed existential realities by separating the creditable from the discreditable in the common experience of the individual and community. Luther understood this clearly enough when he laid down the rule that Evangelical pastors were not to desert their flock in times of pestilence.80The year before Paracelsus arrived in Basel, the worst epidemic in a quarter of a century raged in the city. Undoubtedly, it aggravated the religious tensions, arraying the reform-minded burghers who supported his position as physician and professor against the Catholic medical faculty that was his bitter foe.

Plague could sorely test the individual's faith, separating the weak from the stalwart. By tending to the stricken populace of Antwerp during a plague epidemic, Agrippa von Nettesheim incurred

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the hostility of the physicians of that city. Thorndike assumes that this was because Agrippa was a quack. 81 But why should one exclude the possibility that it was his fearlessness that shamed the local physiciansgarnering for him the respect of a populace in no position to demand high standards in epidemiology? The self-interested course of action in time of plague was avoidance.

Epidemics could delineate the boundaries between spiritual and physical communities. This could happen when the secular measures of plague prevention and control clashed with clerical injunctions and authority. Shortly after Paracelsus's time in Nuremberg, an epidemic in 1533 decimated more than five thousand souls, a very substantial portion of the population. A controversy broke out between the Lutheran pastor Andreas Osiander and the city's councillors, when their secular authority acted to encourage or compel the citizenry to flee to avoid contact with the afflicted. The resultant callousness in the treatment of the ill and dying led Osiander to preach a sermon against the city's ordinance, on how a Christian ought to behave in time of pestilence (Wie und wohin ein Christ vor der Plage der Pestilenz fliehen soll?). It was printed in Königsberg and even translated into English for publication, suggesting that the dilemma was a widespread one.82Osiander's sermon summarized what was being theorized at the time about the possible causes of plague:

And likewise I do not want to quarrel with those who speak of it in the natural manner [saying]: such a scourge comes perchance from the influence of the stars, from the effect of comets, from extraordinary weather conditions and changes of the air, from southerly winds, from stinking waters, or from rotten vapors of the earth.

Desgleich will ich mich auch nicht einlassen gegen denen, die auf natürliche weyß darvon reden und sprechen: Solche plag kom etwo aus einfluß des gestirns, aus wirckung der cometen, aus unordenlicher witterung und endrung des luffts, aus mittägischen winden, aus stinckenden wassern oder aus faulen dempfen des erdtrichs.83

These were common theories, entertained also in Paracelsus's earliest medical writing: plague could be caused by the stars, by poison in nature, or by imbalances of elements or humors, as well as by

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divine will or human wickedness. Osiander did not contest the "natural wisdom." He admonished the Nurembergers to do their Christian duty: officials should not abandon their offices. On pain of arousing God's anger even more severely, people should not shun neighbors or abandon those in need. Salvation of the soul and deliverance from disease were distinct things. Yet the pestilence could draw theology into a critical confrontation with epidemiology.

Epidemic disease not only tested the new faith and disrupted the traditional belief vested in an ecclesiastic hierarchy, which had appeared to mediate between the created world and the eternal one beyond it. Widespread disease could also challenge medieval Galenic medicine and to some extent the cosmological assumptions that had attended it. The name-coining poem on Syphilis, sive Morbus Gallicus by Girolamo Fracastoro (1483-1553) was composed during the period of Paracelsus's earliest recorded activities; it was published in 1530, around the time of his concentrated work on the same disease. The unlikely pastoral poem Syphilis was highly acclaimed by Emperor Charles V. Fracastoro's patron Cardinal Bembo received the work with enthusiasm but persuaded the poet to include more material promoting the therapeutic benefits of guaiac wood-imported and distributed under the auspices of the Church. 84 Syphilis is remembered for its nonhumoral hypothesis that the seeds of contagion are spread through the air. But the poem also engaged in speculations about the nature of the cosmos: Aere, qui terras circum diffunditur omnes, / Qui nobis sese insinuat per corpora ubique, / suetus et has generi viventum inmittere pestes. / Aer quippe pater rerum est, et originis autor.85In accounting for the new disease with the aid of a new theory, it was also necessary to consider the cosmic context of nature as a whole, to entertain the notion, for example, that air is the cosmological pater rerum et originis autor. For Paracelsus, speculations about the origin of diseases would also lead to disagreements with received notions of nature.

This is not to suggest that plague and syphilis epidemics were a decisive stimulus to philosophy, any more than they were, properly speaking, the determinant of Reformation theology. The point is that disease held a universal existential interest which could not be divorced from the other questions moving the world in Paracelsus's day. It was therefore not as aberrant then as it appears now, that in proclaiming his new theories of disease to the public at large, the discourse of Paracelsus should cross the line from pathology into

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cosmology and theology: he could proceed so without departing from his objective of explaining disease and health. On an earth that lay enclosed by the heavens as an egg by its shell, life was immediately contiguous with the invisible power that made and sustained it. The supercelestial hierarchies of Ficino or Agrippa were not much more attractive to Paracelsus than to Luther: in their writings the palpability of existence is expressed in a German language, which, compared to the conceptual refinements of Humanistic Latin, favors the tangible entities of this world.

Both of these revolutionaries of immediacy, Luther as well as Paracelsus, emerged during a period in which authorship was acquiring a new directness and popularity of appeal and impact. Luther's Bible translation was only the finest and most original of many prior printed German versions. Luther was inspired by the late-medieval tradition of vernacular religious writings, the tradition that had included Tauler and the austere mystical tract that Luther knew as the Theologia Deutsch. German mysticism had translated theology into the idiom of the people and sanctioned individual knowledge of God, making it possible for everyone to engage in theology. Similarly in the field of medicine, popular literature during the fifteenth century encouraged not only the academic physicians. Unlearned surgeons and apothecaries were increasingly inclined to compose and sign their names to medical tracts. 86Theories were competing more publicly. Late medieval surgery had been represented by figures such as Peter of Ulm; and astrological medicine by the late fifteenth-century physician Conrad Heingarter of Zurich, who, despite his academic loyalty to Aristotle, Galen, and Ptolemy, anticipated Paracelsus's interest in the use of images and seals and his concern with the processes of digestion.87 German vernacular medical writing had indeed begun long before the advances in printing. Herbaria, folk almanacs, and handbooks of surgery became common among the incunabula and printed works of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century.

Printing held out the possibility of new fame. The earliest medical work printed in German was the Regimen Sanitatis Deutsch (Von der Ordnung der Gesundheit). Published in Augsburg in 1472, it would go through approximately 250 printings.88 Ortollf's popular medical work, Das Artzneibuch, was printed in Nuremberg in 1477; his Frauenbüchlein, a handbook for expectant mothers, in 1500. Eucharius Röslin's medical Rosengarten appeared in Worms

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in 1513. 89 In addition, the illustrious foreign medical authors were being translated into German.90Dennis E. Rhodes indicates the rising trend in popular medical writings prior to 1500: ''The years immediately following the invention of printing brought a spate of semi-popular works on medicine, many of which bore astronomical figures or zodiac men. A total of forty-six of these appeared before 1480, and about 100 before the end of the century."91 In an increasingly open field of medicine, the paths would seem to converge either in a vista of harmonious prospects of the kind envisaged in Paracelsus's early Volumen Paramirum, or in the "labyrinth of medical errors" envisaged late in his life. Lorenz Fries was a rival medical controversialist who immediately preceded Paracelsus into the field of competitive opportunity. Fries's career indicates that that of his colleague and soon-to-be acquaintance was not as unique as one might think. Thorndike's characterization captures some of their similarities and differences:

Fries' Spiegel der Artznei, first published in Strasbourg in 1518, is said by Schmidt to be the oldest work on internal medicine in the German language. The author dedicates it "to the poor sick of the common people," but to this preface adds a prayer in Latin to the learned asking pardon for teaching the science of Apollo in the language of the people. He asserts that his only aim is to extirpate errors, and that the glory of true physicians will not suffer from his book. He warns the folk against charlatans and empirics, and states that the only doctors worthy of confidence are rational physicians possessing academic degrees and a knowledge of grammar, logic, astronomy, arithmetic, geometry, music, cosmography, and especially natural

science.92

Here, with a different resolution, is the typical Paracelsian task of defining who is to be served by medicine, on whose authority it is to serve, and which disciplines it requires in order to be of service.

Among late-medieval medical writings, it is not surprising that one of the most important categories was the plague tract. Every great epidemic wave yielded a crop of new plague writings. Again and again, these tracts repeated old theories, yet failure was so spectacular and so recurrent that it could only have eased open the door, bit by bit, to new theses and original initiatives in medicine. Sudhoff collected and evaluated an extensive German and European

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plague literature from 1348 to 1500 93, with results indicating the same tendency for this genre as Gerhard Eis could report for other types of late-medieval medical literature. The tendency was toward more works in German and fewer anonyma. The treatises increasingly bore the names of authors. Campbell has evaluated the impact of the plague and of the treatises addressed to it upon late-medieval learning.94Part of the Paracelsian legend is that he emerged as a heroic fighter against plague in Ferrara. This is certainly conjectural. However, as we shall see, it is significant that the causes of plague common in the late-medieval plague treatises correspond roughly to the five "substances" of disease discussed in Paracelsus's early writing on the five entia (Volumen Paramirum). More will be said about the connections of plague theory and Paracelsian etiology in the discussion of the Volumen Paramirum later in this chapter.

In addition to what one might call the low medical culture of popular handbooks and plague tracts, the writing of Paracelsus reflects the high medical culture of Italian Renaissance medicine as represented by Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499)a name, we recall, that drew a rare word of praise. Before Paracelsus, Ficino had addressed the cause of epidemic pestilence, explaining its spread by a supernatural power of the imagination. Walter Pagel has maintained that the theory bears an important similarity to some plague explanations of Paracelsus.95Beyond specific influences of this kind, Ficino had erected an exemplary model for the role of the physician as the man of sovereign intellect, the man whose medical theory rests on great learning, comprising the divine and the natural in its purview, and whose medical pursuit amounts to a sacerdotal mission. As Pagel stated the matter: "Paracelsus's whole life and work seems to be an attempt at implementing the ideal of Ficino's priest-physician." Pagel indeed went beyond the importance of Ficino as an ethical model: "It is from Ficino as the exponent of Neo-Platonism that Paracelsus derives his inspiration."96 According to Goldammer, Paracelsus also knew and adapted Ficino's De triplici vita, especially its third part (De vita coelitus comparanda), in his own early De vita longa, though Goldammer notes as well that the latter differed markedly.97 Paracelsus certainly contrasted sharply with Ficino or Pico della Mirandola in giving short shrift both to classical antiquity and to learned sources in general. When disproportionate emphasis is assigned to illustrious Paracelsian precursors, there may be a

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tendency to overlook more obscure sources and affinitiesa bias which the studies of Gerhard Eis have done much to rectify. 98

Another form of nonscholastic writing that cleared a ground for the thinking of Paracelsus is the alchemistic tract composed in the vernacular. The names of many medieval alchemists who wrote in Latin occur in Paracelsus's work. When he alludes to Geber, Roger Bacon, Arnald of Villanova, Rupescissa, and others, invariably his references are sweepingly negative; surprisingly so, since Roger Bacon or Arnald of Villanova indeed offered some precedent for his own medical alchemy.99 Another worka book not mentioned by Paracelsus, but which nevertheless struck one contemporary as anticipatory of his three principles100is the early fifteenth-century Book of the Holy Trinity (Das Buch von der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit). It had been composed in Constance between 1415 and 1419. This was the exact place and time of Jan Hus's betrayal and execution by the Council of Constance (1415) and of the start of the Bohemian uprising which threatened German power and papal authority. The German Book of the Holy Trinity anticipates Paracelsus's extension of an earlier metallurgical diad of mercury and sulphur to his triad of sulphur, mercury, and salt. The work also anticipates the theological import of this extension; for, like Paracelsus, the Book of the Holy Trinity endeavors to synthesize the tenets of alchemy, astrology, and meteorology with those of theology, coordinating in parallel patterns alchemistic references, with a mystically understood "medicine.101" The book effectively merges various sources of authority, the divine, the political, and the natural, in a manner designed to glorify the Burggraf of Nuremberg and Emperor Sigismund, defenders of an order threatened by Hussite heresy and rebellion in Bohemia. Such a work, as well as the Latin tradition of medieval medical alchemy, could have served Paracelsus, in rather the same way that the mystical German treatise of the Theologia Deutsch could serve a Luther, who later rejected mysticism after finding his own way. In its divine sanctioning of inspirations, mysticism could assume various forms and serve diverse purposes. A contrastive symmetry distinguishes the inward-turned mysticism of the Theologia, whose anonymous author warns against "the light of nature," from the nature-oriented contemplation of The Book of the Holy Trinity. For, unlike the reflective mysticism of the Theologia Deutsch and of Tauler, the illumination granted to the devout author of The Book of the Holy Trinity reveals instead that eternal

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and natural truths are confirmed by the homologies of the stars, elements, nature, and Scripture.

In summary, though Paracelsus's actual precedents may remain obscure, his potential sources should have been relatively rich and diverse. Moreover, the advancement of printing was rendering authorship more effective in his time, even as the competition of books, theories, and doctrines was rendering it more public and no doubt more hazardous. Almost from the beginning of his work, he appears to compose as if preparing drafts for print. Between the lines of his writings, in the diatribes echoed and returned, in his gestures of parrying the assaults upon his position, or in his references to competing "sects" in medicine, one discerns the background cacophany of a quarrelsome Zeitgeist. This background of conflict in his work is rife with competing voices ever on the brink of open conflict with brutal consequences.

Against the teeming forces of confusion and fear, Paracelsus attempted to reconcile the conflicting claims of authority. The material day-to-day circumstances of his authorship can perhaps be surmised from the travel journal Michel de Montaigne dictated to his secretary some fifty years later while travelling through the very same regions of Switzerland, South Germany, Austria, and Northern Italy frequented by Paracelsus. The details may assist us in imagining a life lived in transit in the sixteenth century. The Frenchman was impressed by the quality of the food, wine, and accommodations; however, the sleeping rooms were often filled with several beds, with no bed curtains and, at best, a clapboard that could be folded out to make a crude desk. Moreover, the dining halls were crowded with guests, meals lasting as much as three to four hours, sometimes with raucous entertainments. Privacy for reflection or study would have been unimaginable, gregariousness of the kind to which Paracelsus was so given, a matter of imposed necessity. Quarrels and inconveniences occurred in transit. The inquisitive Montaigne took note of the changing sovereignties and differing religious practices and doctrines. Fascinated by the latter, he engaged pastors and citizens in lengthy discussions of their religion. Like other visitors, he was favored by the local magistrates with a hospitality that accorded with his social rank and the political disposition toward his nation. Montaigne for his part preferred to avoid attracting notice. Had he not been a wealthy dignitary and former mayor of Bordeaux, but a "doctor of both medicines," without a fixed residence or steady source

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of income, self-promotion would have been at a premium. 102Self-promotion, varying between approaches of eclectic harmonization and hostile assertions of fundamental originality, is a constant of Paracelsus's writing.

Among his very earliest medical-philosophical writings is the fragmented work that goes by the title of Volumen medicinae Paramirum de Medica Industria, and which in Sudhoff's volume one also bears the heading of "Fragments of the Book Concerning the five Entia" (Brüchstücke des Buches Von den fünf Entien). This fragmentary work appears to have been a rough draft. It attempts an unprecedented overview of five kinds of causes of disease and of five corresponding kinds of medicine. However, the work ends inconclusively, and in the subsequent writings the terms ens or entia retain only a minor significance, having been displaced by other terminologies. The inconclusive "Book of the five Entia"seems intent on pressing home the message to its readers that hegemonic claims in medicine are untenable, suggesting that the new medicine of the author is as valid as the other four kinds of medicine. If he accepts their validity, then the worthiness of his medicine should be above doubt. The tendency of his thought in this writing is irenic and inclusive. The opinion that this is his earliest medical writing gains plausibility from the fact that the author does not excoriate the medicine of his opponents or berate Galen or Avicenna as fools and knaves. Rather moderately, he avers that their theories have been misunderstood. The fact that he does not elaborate on the "three primary things'' of his mature theory also sustains the judgment that this fragment on the entia or five substances of disease is among his earliest. It appears to be separated from the later writings by some abrupt turn in the development of his ideas.

Unfortunately, the interesting consequences of this priority have been camouflaged somewhat by a lavish praise for the Volumen Paramirum, which makes it rather difficult to see this fragment as an agonizing beginning rather than a work of serene genius. Far from serenity, the work tries to avoid confrontation by letting things be all ways at once. Disputes over causes and cures can be resolved, apparently, in a peaceful coexistence of diagnostic- therapeutic approaches. In this respect, the work on the five entia expresses a basic polarity in the thinking of Paracelsus: his will to harmonize all positions, a desire which, no sooner frustrated, swings to the diametrically opposite pole

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of his assertions of originality and furious assaults on detractors. For much the same reason, the work intimates the restlessness of his life and thought. We cannot be certain whether the tract was composed before, during, or after his sojourn in Salzburg, but it seems to convey an early hope that his originality can abide in harmony with other therapeutic approaches. This tendency of the Volumen Paramirum needs to be understood in the context of Paracelsus's perennially unsettled life.

One can imagine the author of the fragment on the five entia of disease, peregrinating across the margins of empire, through Hapsburg crownlands and church lands, imperial cities beholden only to the emperor, and Swiss cities beholden to none. He would have been confronted with a patchwork of territorial entities, as idiosyncratic in their urban constitutions, as piecemeal in their boundary lines, as diverse or uncertain in their ties of subordination, and probably as varied in their medical usages, as the five Paramiran "princes" of disease. In the definition of the author, the five entia are designated thus because each has the "power to rule the body" (ens ist ein urprung oder ein ding, welchs gewalt hat den leib zu regirenI,1:172). The body lives under many different sovereign rulers, according to the author of Volumen Paramirum.

All the corporate entities faced common perils, one of which is discussed prominently in the Volumen Paramirum:

the threat of plague. Not by chance, this is the first example, the touchstone case for explaining disease. Pestilence is a crown witness against the hegemony of humoral medicine. The Volumen Paramirum is quick to note against

opposing arguments: "But you

halt euch also und irrent in dem gegen uns, das ir sezet, das alle pestilenz aus den humoribus entspring oder aus dem das im leib, da ir fast irrentI,1:172). Here, "pestilence" delivers the key argument against humoral medicine. Yet it is noteworthy that the author does not reason from the widespread occurrence of the plague to a single widespread cause of infection. His point is instead that one and the same disease can arise from five diverse causes; there are therefore "five pestilences" (fünf pestilenz), corresponding to the five pathogenic entia (I,1:174). Not only this: each of the five pestilences may stem from a single cause and origin, but then either remain internal, as fever, or become an open wound and pestilence (wan febris und pestilenz haben ein ursprung, aber er bricht sich. ein teil gehet

err against us in stating that all pestilence arises from the

." (aber ir

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in die feule der inwendigen, als febres, und gehört dem leibarzt zu, der ander teil gehet in die

The internal fever or pestilence is in the province of the physician, the external pestilence in that of the surgeon.

Paracelsus is known for introducing numerous variations in his diagnoses, analyses, and prescriptions. His theory of plague retains elements of constancy from the early fragmentary Volumen Paramirum to the plague tracts of the late 1520s. Moreover, in addition to this seminal prominence and relative constancy of his views on plague, it is also noteworthy that his views correspond to some previously expressed notions. Similar notions are found in the plague tracts that played such an innovative and prominent role in the public dialogue of medicine during the century and a half after the Black Death. The 141 Pesttraktate of German origin gathered by Sudhoff, roughly half of which were either composed in or translated into the vernacular, reflected the same notions found in those of other countries. Campbell's similar survey of The Black Death and Men of Learning offers an overview in support of her thesis that the cumulative impact of the plague altered medicine by upgrading the role of the surgeon, heightening the prestige of the medical professional, encouraging the practical orientations of anatomical dissection and the study of toxins in the body, and questioning the epidemiology of the ancients, Galen and Hippocrates, as well as by introducing the effective measure of quarantining the infected. 103

Yet Paracelsus's book has its peculiarities. The discussion of the five substances of disease begins with a curious admixture of nonsequitur and tautology:

You should know that all diseases are cured in five ways, and our medicine therefore begins with the cure and not with the causes, for the reason that the cure reveals to us the cause. To this [end] our argument is addressed that healing is fivefold. This is as much as to say that there is a fivefold medicine or a fivefold art or fivefold faculties or fivefold doctors. Among the five, each is a sufficient faculty to heal all diseases.

.I,1:166).

Du solt wissen, das alle krankheiten in fünferlei weg geheilet werden, und heben also an unser arznei bei der heilung und nit bei den ursachen, darumb das uns die heilung die ursach anzeigt. Auf das gêt unser argument, das fünferlei heilung sind.

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das ist als vil geret, als das fünferlei arznei sind oder fünferlei künst oder fünferlei faculteten oder fünferlei arzet. under denen fünfen ist ein iegliche ein gnugsame facultas der arznei, alle krankheiten zu heilen.

(I,1:165)

At first glance, this is not very satisfying. If the cure reveals the cause, why not begin, logically, with the cause? It seems that Paracelsus is in a hurry to arrive at his own kind of healing, and that the purpose of the broader context is actually to arrange an opening in the order of things. In later writings, the relationship will be reversed: the all- embracing theoretical context will require so much attention that he will lose sight of the specific tasks of healing diseases. Discussions of common ailments such as gout will implicate him as a medical theorist in discussions of the first and final things of all creation.

In this early essay, the spirit of inclusiveness encourages the pioneer to presume that there is room enough in medicine for every sort of theory and practice. Soon this expansiveness leads him into contradictions. Are we dealing with five distinct kinds of causes? In his haste to describe the five kinds of cures, he denies this: "thus not that we do not therefore demand for the five kinds of cure five causes of all diseases, but rather we describe five kinds of healing, of which each serves for all causes of diseases, as is set forth here" (so merkt das wir nit drum forderen auf fünferlei heilung fünferlei ursach aller kranckheiten, sonder wir beschreiben fünferlei heilung, da ein ietliche deren dient auf alle ursachen der krankheiten wie dan hernach folgetI,1:166) Against this, the reiteration of his characterization of the five cures immediately relapses, so that there turn out to be after all five causes: "five [in number] are the causes of all diseases' sources" (fünf seind auch der ursachen aller krankheiten ursprungI,1:166). It seems then that, as far as healing is concerned, there are five distinct "sects"; but as far as the understanding of cause is concerned, there is only a single "sect" (aber der heilung nach sind fünfsecten, dem verstant nach auf wissen der ursachen nur ein sectenI,1:167). The ambiguity is seminal: in the mature theoretical syntheses, Paracelsus still maintains that the true physician has to be knowledgeable in the four areas of philosophy, astrology, alchemy, and in what he calls the teaching of the ''virtues." All of these presuppose a divine illumination and guidance, so that there are actually five sources of medical truth. In attempting to reconcile

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the diverse modes of explanation, the later writings likewise remain equivocal as to the precise causation of disease.

The five kinds of medicine are designated variously. In the main body of the Volumen Paramirum, the five medicines correspond to the five entia or five substances of disease. Paracelsus may have resorted to the term ens, entia, in an attempt to skirt the dilemma posed by the more logically unequivocal terms ursache ("cause") or ursprung ("source"). Ens has already been defined as a power from which the medicine associated with it derives its authority: "ens is a source or a thing which has power to rule the body" (ens ist ein ursprung oder ein ding, welchs gewalt hat den leib zu regirenI,1:172). The five entia are ens astrale, ens venale, ens naturale, ens spiritale, and ens deale. Ens astrorum can only be the power of the starshowever, Paracelsus confines their influence to such a degree that here astrological medicine loses any pretension of hegemony. He accepts, albeit critically, the medieval and Renaissance precept that ''the wise man rules over the stars" (ein weiser man herschet uber das gestirnI,1:180). For Paracelsus, we recall, the stars are close. They appear to sustain the permanent being of the human creature, in the same way that, as he later says, air prevents the stars from crashing to the ground in the fragile cosmic egg (I,8:162).

In their visible aspect, the stars were the most permanent and orderly of all natural phenomena; hence, their stabilizing power is responsible for their influence on life:

Now, life lives from the body [just as a fire burns from the wood that is its fuel]. Now, the body must have something so that it is not burned up by [the "fire" of] life, but rather retains its essence. That is the entity [ens] that I am going to tell you of; it comes from the firmament. You say, and it is true, that, if not for the air, all things would fall to the ground and everything that has life would be suffocated and die.

nun lebt das leben aus dem leib. nun muß der leib etwas haben das er vom leben nit verzeret werd, sonder im wesen bleib. das selbige ist das ding, darvon wir euch das ens erzelen; dises kumpt aus dem firmament. ir saget und ist also, so der luft nicht wer, so fielen alle ding gen boden und alles, das da leben hat, das selbig ersticket und stürb. (1,1:182

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The entity or medium that mediates between stars and earth, that holds things in place and transmits influences, is designated as the Mysterium. The Mystery is the most inclusive entity of all, and it is a vital medium: "the M(ystery) contains all creatures in heaven and on earth, and all elements live from it and in it" (das dis M<ysterium> alle geschöpfenthalt in himel und erden, und alle elementen leben aus ihm und in ihmI,1:182-183). It is therefore a vitalistic substance. Presumably, just as the egg must contain a vital medium encompassing yolk and albumen to be and become what it has in it to be, so also, the cosmos must be filled with something more potent and more fundamental than its constituent elements and entities. Further explanation of the Mysterium is to be found in a work "on the first creation" (wie aber das selbige euch zuverstehen ist, solt ir eingedenk sein de primo creatoI,1:183).Paracelsus's early writings often refer to other planned or executed writings for further clarification.

Ens venale brings the author to the kind of medicine that interests him most pressingly: alchemistic medicine. Ens venale comprises the pathogenic substances of disease that surround the human being and that are ingested in food. The composition and use of poisons was an object of theoretical and (tragically for the guinea pigs) of practical research during the Middle Ages. However, it is on the foundation of his alchemy that Paracelsus now postulates that our environment and the food we ingest are replete with poison. The alchemist knows how to "separate the

poison from the good" (das gift das wir under dem guten einnehmen

Paracelsus seems to have achieved a salient breakthrough, both in recognizing the external causes of disease and in characterizing the process of digestion. Examined thoughtfully, the theory strikes us as less an anticipation of bacteriology and more a vestige of the great chain of being of an ancient metaphysics. There is a hierarchy in nature. Some things are more perfect (volkomen) than others. What is lower can be poisonous to what is higher. However, the lower must yield the higher: the grass the cow, the cow the milk, etc. The transformation of things is effected by an alchemy that operates by means of the "virtues" (tugent)or "forces" (kraft)in things (I,1:191-192). Paracelsus astutely recognizes that there has to be an alchemist within the body, effecting digestion and the tranformation of substances. He names this inner artist the archaeus. This recognition that digestion or metabolism rests on a process of

vom guten scheidenI,1: 190). With this,

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chemical transformation may well be his most impressive insight attributable to deductions from empirical experience.

When it comes to the ens naturale, we might expect to find a discussion of Galenic medicine with its four humors. The author for the first time waxes polemical, deviating from the intended harmony of the five medicines. If the ens astrale comprised the macrocosm, ens naturale is the microcosm, the small counterpart of the firmament. The author acknowledges that he has accepted the term microcosm from certain rivals against whom he contends, but

he avers that only he uses this term in its corrected sense (I,1:202). Clearly, he is adapting the term from opponents and, at the same time, incorporating it into his own arguments. Not only does the microcosmic condition presuppose a human firmament within us, it also presupposes that all things subsisting in the great world either are

or can grow within the small human world: "Such growth is as much as the fruit of the earth

nutriments of the body sustain its parts. Thus all things grow in the human being" (solchs wachsen ist als vil als die

thus the growing

frücht der erden

also halten die wachsenden nutrimenten des leibs die glider des leibs auf also wachsen im

menschen alle dingI,1:203). Within his scheme of the macrocosmic-microcosmic order, the elements and the humors can be acceptedalbeit with a condescending air: "for they rule jointly in ens naturale. For some diseases originate from the seven [planets], some from the elements, some from the qualities, some from the humors, some from the complexions, as will follow here" (dan die mitherschen in ente naturali. wan etliche krankheiten komen aus den siben, etliche aus den elementen, etliche aus den qualiteten, etliche aus den humoribus, etliche aus den complexen, wie dan hernach folgen wirdI,1:210). Against the hegemonic assertions of the humors, Paracelsus responds with an alchemistic disquisition that contrasts the humors with the four tastes: "fiery, sweet, bitter, salty" (feuri, süße, bitteri, selziI,1:211). This is very odd, since it is not at all apparent why this should offer any sort of alternative. But the tendency is clearly away from the lifeless elements and toward the organic living qualitiestoward meaning. In subordinating the four elemental humors to these four tastes, he vitalizes the ens naturale and integrates organic and chemical characteristics in its purview.

The ens spiritale requires a precarious definition, for the spirit intended by Paracelsus is neither angel nor devil nor the immortal human soul, but rather something "born from our thoughts without

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matter in the living body" (dann der teufel ist kein geist. ein geist ist auch kein engel. das ist ein geist, das aus unsern gedanken geboren wird on materia im lebendigen leib, das nach unserm tot geboren wird das ist die sêlI,1:216). The ens spiritale is a spiritual entity or substance born out of the resolved will, in the same way that a resolved will gives birth to speech (diser beschloßner wille und verhengter ist eine muter die da gebiert den geistI,1:219). The ens spiritale, which can effect sickness in the subject or in another who is an object of animosity, reflects the medieval and sixteenth-century notion of the power of imagination, a power that could imprint the form of an object contemplated or desired by the pregnant mother on the embryo of her unborn infant. 104 In this substance of illness, one can perhaps recognize an early intuition of the psychosomatic disorder of modern psychiatry. However, there is more to the ens spiritale than this. In his era of spiritual strife, Paracelsus recognized the activities of two realms, that of the bodies and that of the spirits. The spirits are at war in their invisible realm (I,1:218). Ens spiritale also gives an acknowledgment to a sorcery that operates by means of waxen images to cause illness in one's enemies (I,1:220-221). Ens spiritale is therefore akin to witchcraft as well. Since this ens is of the spirit, Paracelsus feels constrained to admonish sternly against confusing it with the power of faith: "to speak of faith or to connect it with faith is more foolish than wise" (vom glauben zu reden oder einzureimen hierin ist mer nerrisch dan weisischI,1:224). Subsequently, he is more willing to see imagination and faith as manifestations of the same power.

For the final medicine, that of ens dei, disease is treated as a punishment (flagellum, "scourge") from God. The

first three entia pertain to the body; ens spiritale and ens dei both pertain to the spirit. Only ens deale falls within the purview of what is understood as Christian knowledge. In proceeding to discuss the ens dei, Paracelsus actually seems to disassociate himself somewhat from the valid truths found in the other medicines: "we write the other four

books of practice not for the Christians but to the infidels

nit für die christen sonder zu den ungleubigen

For the medical theorist, this conclusion presents a malaisethe later works, the authority of God encompasses his entire medical theory. Here he may have arrived at his conclusion under some

." (wir schreiben die andern vier bücher der practic

.I,1:225).

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pressure from external theological challenges. There is a concluding tone of resentment toward them: "yet the

theological writings should not trouble us

He has reached an impasse in his thought. After initially begging the question of ens as cause, and after allowing for the possibility of several distinct realms of causationall of them resulting in identical diseasesParacelsus must either introduce a hierarchy of greater and lesser causes, or he must acknowledge that the human subject of medicine navigates through distinct causal realms separated by invisible boundaries. But instead of resolving the question, he concedes that all diseases must be recognized as instances of ens dei:

." (wil uns nit betrüben noch die theologischen geschriften

.I,1:234).

therefore we employ in this tractate a Christian style

that we recognize that all our diseases are scourges

and examples and a demonstration that God removes the same through our Christian faith, not through medicine in the heathen way, but rather in Christ.

darumb so sezen wir in disem tractat ein christlichen stylum

krankheiten flagellen sind und exempel und anzeigung das uns got die selbigen hinnem durch unsern glauben christenlich, nit durch die arznei heidnisch sonder in Christo. (I,1:228-229)

das wir erkennen, das all unsere

Paracelsus's later symbol of the Labyrinth of Errant Physicians seems ironically applicable to his own causal blind circuitry of five entia. The highest teaching of this early medical synthesis is that there is no true medicine of earthly origin.

In the Volumen Paramirum, the five entia and corresponding five schools of medicine correspond in a general way to variants of plague theory found in the older tracts. Recurrent ways of explaining plague epidemics had included the astronomical theory (epidemics result from catastrophic astral conjunctions); the widespread and enduring miasmic thesis (poisonous vapors released from the earth lead to mass infection); the theological theory (pestilence is a divine punishment); the spiritual-psychological theory (excited and malevolent passions such as fear and anger increase vulnerability); and, finally, variants of the Galenic theory that explained disease as humoral-elemental imbalance. The listing is not exhaustive, and in

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many cases theories were combined; but to say this is merely to acknowledge the tendency in the scheme of five entia. 105In the Volumen Paramirum, the above modes of explanation are matched by the ens astrale (the astral cause of plague), the ens venale (a more generalized parallel of the miasmic vapor which poisons the afflicted), the ens deale (for which Paracelsus also employs the term "scourge," flagellum), ens spiritale (the malevolence or anger that infects without material transfer or contact), and ens naturale (which Paracelsus expands beyond traditional humoral medicine). In both the early Volumen Paramirum and a later plague tractate composed for the city of Sterzing, the dual nature of plague as a disease that can either remain internal as fever or become external as bubonic plague calls respectively for the ministrations of the physician and surgeon (I,1:166; cf. I,8:376ff.).

It can therefore be said of Paracelsus's work on plague, as Campbell observed for plague in general, that it stimulated the combining of tasks of surgeons and physicians: "In this [matter], I would have it thus, that the surgical physician is the doctor and the plague surgeon, not the so-called surgeon" (in dem wil ichs also haben, das der physicus chirurgicalis sei der arzt und chirurgicus pestis und nit der vermeint chirurgusI,8:376-377). In the early Volumen Paramirum and the later Sterzing plague tract, the nature of the epidemic challenges humoral medicine, though the challenge does not lead to a clear deduction in either the earlier or the later work. In the

latter, the author denies not only that plague is humoral but also that it is infectious in order to conclude with a "supernatural" reciprocality of astral and human influences (I,1:172; cf. I,8:375: so ist auch pestis kein krankheit

der superfluitet, ist auch nit humor, ist auch nit infectio, sondern intoxicatio

striking witness to Paracelsus's credulous acceptance of legend as fact. His combined astronomical and alchemical

explanations matter-of-factly include the action of the mythic basilisk, the legendary beast that could kill with its

gaze: "The countenance of the basilisk kills, and likewise the countenance of

poison through Mars in the pestilence. This has caused difficulty for those who have written about pestilence that

they were foiled by the birth of the basilisk" (das gesicht des basilisken tötet, also ist auch das gesicht also ist auch ein andergift durch martem in derpestilenz. das ist mühe und arbeit bei denen, die sich in der pestilenz zu schreiben unterstanden haben, das

.).Moreover, the Sterzing tract bears

thus, too, there is a second

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inen die geburt basilisci gebrosten hatI,8:383-384). In the same passage, Paracelsus solemnly confirms the deadliness of the basilisk's glance: "For wherever the eyes of the basilisk turn, they look thither, and to whomever this glance is imparted, he receives the shot" (dan da sich die augen hinrichten, da sehen sie hin, der disem blick zu teil wird der entpfacht den schußI,8:384). The Sterzing tract expresses characteristic contempt for the gross stupidity of previous plague literature (I,8:371, 372). But the truth be told, some of the medieval tracts seem to have been more skeptical than he regarding this arch superstition of the pestiferous basilisk with its killing gaze.

106

Here the important point is not to judge Paracelsus against earlier or later standards of enlightenment, but to recognize the strands of coherence in his profuse writings. The plague tracts reveal an underlying tendency of his work as a whole: the effort to forge out of diverse sources of authority one cohesive system of explanation. Alongside the killing gaze of the basilisk, the Sterzing tract undertakes to combine the two modes of explanation based on the stars and the inner life of the subjectcombining the most external and objective of things with the most internal and subjective. Thus the outermost and the innermost of spheres are reciprocally in touch through the power of the "magical imagination" (magica imaginatio). Just as ens spiritale could bring about illness without material contact, Paracelsus observes that there is "an anger that overcomes its master [and] ruins his health" (der zorn der seinen herrn uberwint, verderbet in seiner gesuntheitI,8:380).The force of this inner enmity "overcomes its enemies as it pleases without any swordstrokes" (der uberwint seine feinde nach seinem lust on alle schwertschlegI,8:380). This same power can also pass into the astral influence which is a kind of medium between upper and lower, outer and inner:

From the human being the effect goes into the influence, from which the impression goes to [the other] and the medium has been struck; thus plague remains in such an order. For all our poison, envy, hatred, deceit, anger, vice, and luxury return into the upper magnalia; in them lies [the power] to generate.

aus dem menschen gehet die wirkung in die influenz, aus derselbigen gehet die impression nach dem und das mittel getroffen ist;

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also bleibt pestis in solcher ordnung. dan alle unser gift, neid, haß, falsch, zorn, laster und uppikeit steigt zuruck in die oberen magnalia; in denen ligt es zu generiren. (1,1:380)

This spectral war, in which human viciousness literally escalates and exacts a spiraling toll, is rooted in the magical imagination and is at the root of epidemics:

So it is that magica imaginatio proceeds from us into [the heavens], and from [them] back upon us. And for this reason, magicus intellectus is the light from which every ground of the supernatural diseases is explained, outside of which intellect the medical men err in the description of plague.

darumb so gehet magica imaginatio von uns in in, von im wider auf uns. und also ist magicus intellectus das liecht, aus welchem erkleret wird aller grand der ubernatürlichen krankheiten, außerhalb welchem intellect die medici in beschreibung der pestis augenscheinlich irren. (I,1:381)

According to Pagel, Paracelsus adopted this theory from the Ficino he admired as the "best of Italian physicians." 107 The uncharacteristic use of the term magicus intellectus suggests the possibility of this influence. But the two distinct components of the theory, the role of the imagination on the one hand and of the stars on the other, were not foreign to the popular plague tracts either.108 In combining them with the idea of plague as a supernatural disease, Paracelsus trod a precarious borderline between accepting plague as a divine punishment and elevating it into a supernatural operation: "It is well known to you what the firm imagination does, which is a beginning of all magical works" (Euch ist genugsam wissend, was die strenge imagination tut, welche ein anfang ist aller magischen werkenI,8:379).

Despite the apparent obscurantism, Paracelsus's theory of the accelerating inner and outer spiral of epidemic death rests on moral and religious premises: it condemns anger and fear and upholds human dignity, at least in a negative sense, by asserting that the human race is not tyrannized by the stars or elements; rather, the human will itself engenders the very catastrophe that would seem to defy all certain knowledge and self-determination. The imagina-

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tion in this context is not faith, yet, like faith, it possesses a supernatural potency that can bridge the gap between inner and outer, heavens and earth. The Tirolian beneficiaries of the plague tract, however, did not appreciate its subtleties. They drove their would-be benefactor out of town. Cities beset by an epidemic often at first suppressed the scope of the danger in order to reduce panic and, when worse came to worst, advised flight to the beleaguered city dwellers. The advice offered by the plague tract was realistic regarding human vulnerability, but it was hardly comforting:

If we address the attack of plague, the truth is that we have no further knowledge, except that we might

speak: watch out, take care, flee. For how little do we know of the [celestial plague] ray; it is born in the

upper heavens, that we do know;

But we do not know where it will strike.

so wir sollen vom angreifen reden der pestis, so haben wir in der warheit kein ander wissen, das wir

möchten sprechen, hüt du dich, du beware dich, fleuch du. dan als wenig wissens als wir vom stral haben,

der wird in den oberen himeln geboren, das wissen wir;

(I,8:375)

wir wissen aber nicht, wohin er schießen wil.

After writing this for the citizens, Paracelsus was expelled from Sterzing and soon afterward from Innsbruck.

But the Sterzing Pestschrift is not among the earlier works. It is of the post-Basel period to which we digressed in order to gauge the impact of the plague both in the beginnings and in the ongoing development of Paracelsus's theories.

In summarizing the results of the analysis, we can see that the Volumen Paramirum stands on a threshold. In the background, we can perceive a rivalry of explanations in the tradition of the plague tracts. In the foreground of works following the Volumen Paramirum, we will discern the contours of an emerging pattern in the thought of Paracelsus. We can arrange the features of this pattern into parallel columns. The causes commonly offered for plague epidemics are seen to correspond roughly to the entia of Paracelsus. To be sure, as to his later characterization of the disciplines that a physician must command, discrepancies will emerge: the teaching of the "virtues" is a later addition; and divine causation, though perennially present for Paracelsus, is afterwards no longer given as one ens among four others:

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Plague causes in popular tracts:

Five entia

of Paracelsus:

Tributary medical arts of his later works:

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humors (and elemental

ens naturale

philosophy,

disturbances, such as

microcosm

concerned with the earth, nature

earthquakes) astronomical events:

ens astrale

astronomy,

comets, conjunctions

macrocosm

the heavens

miasma, poisonous

ens venale

alchemy, separates the

vapors in the air

omnipresent

poison from the good

poison

imagination, black magic, anger, fear

ens spiritale

the "virtues"

divine punishment

[spirit as a distinct agent or medium]

ens deale

[divine authority]

We should conclude our digression with a reminder that, although plague figures prominently in Paracelsus's writings, and although plague and its theories are well documented historically, for the sixteenth-century author, history and legend could blend into a single monolithic realm of shadows. Plague is not remembered as the Black Death that annihilated the populace of Europe in 1348. Of biblical fame, plague is "four thousand years" old according to Paracelsus (I,8:371). On the other hand, syphilis (franzosen)and gout (podagra)were revealing that in the autumnal times of the sixteenth century, the diseases were becoming different and more numerous than in the days of Galen. We shall see how Paracelsus is influenced by epidemic disease to theorize about new diseases and transformations of old ones. His thinking is in opposition to the underlying Aristotelian precept of a stable universe, and in stark contrast to the formulation of his supposed Ferraran professor Leoniceno, who reflected thus on the "French Disease":

When I reflect that men are endowed with the same nature, born under the same skies, brought up under the same stars, I am compelled to think that they have been always afflicted by the same diseases; neither can I comprehend how this disease

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has suddenly destroyed our age as none

unchanged on countless occasions since the beginning of the world. 109

For if the laws of nature are examined they have existed

Paracelsus is convinced that new entities are springing forth from the womb of creation. His theory of disease is of a piece with his understanding of time and creation.

Very generally, the notion of a universe of entia betokens the multiplicity of given sources of things; the world is made up of particular entities. Some entities are visible. Others are invisible. Some are temporal, others eternal. Some are animate, others inanimate. Changebirth, growth, deathis the dimension of the individuality of the entitites. Transformation embodies the emergence of what had been until then invisible. Therefore, what is novel is never altogether new. The new is rather a revelation of something theretofore concealed. Time is only the succession of things to be revealed, so that when all potential variety has at last been exhausted, the world must come to an end.

The individualist in Paracelsus knows that the differences among human beings is the mark of an eschatological progression which proceeds from Adam unto the end of world. This progression has been preordained by God through the nature of an ens seminis that contained all human forms, colors, and customs latent within it. This ens must unfold all its innate variants, until they are at last exhausted and the time of Judgment arrives:

You speak further of the unlike forms of people, that from Adam on there has been such a long time with

so many people without any one of them having been like

When the Final Day comes, all the

colors and customs of people will be fulfilled; for it awaits the point in time when all colors, forms and figures, and customs of people are exhausted and none more can be born without having to look like another; then the hour of the course of the first world will have struck.

ir sagt auch mer von der ungleichen gestalt der menschen, das von Adam her ein solche lange zeit under

sovil menschen nie keiner dem andern gleich ist gewesen

so der jüngst tag kompt, so werden die

farben und sitten der menschen alle erfüllt sein, dan er ist alein gesezt auf den punkten, so alle farben, form

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und gestalten und sitten der menschen für sind und keiner mer mag geboren werden, er muß etwan eim gleich sehen. alsdan ist die stunt aus des laufs der ersten welt. (I,1:181).

In the world of entities, the succession of time reveals the variety encoded into a seminal entitythe seed of all things. The distinctiveness of each entity in turn has both time (the potential variability of things) and permanence (the imparted nature of the Maker of all time) encoded into its particular being.

Assuredly, the bane of a world of particular entities lies in the difficulty of subordinating particular to universal. The world of irreducible entities is the vista of peculiar objects in Dürer's painting of Melancholia. Mysterious objectsa comet, a rainbow, a table of numbers, an irregular figure, sundry symbols and puzzles without cluesall surround a despairing angel. As an alchemist pondering over substances and transformations, or as a physician searching for the true ground of medicine, Paracelsus must have known this melancholy irreducibility of the particular.

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3

Peasant War and Iconoclasm

We cannot ascertain with any real certainty when the Volumen Paramirum was written. Allusions in this and other works suggest that it might have roughly coincided with the Salzburg religious writings. The final section of the Volumen hints at a shift of orientation from ''pagan" medicine to the ens deale of faith. In Salzburg, involvements of a rather mysterious kind confronted the speculative thinker with the conflicts and popular movements of the early Reformation. Though the precise nature and partisan adherence of his involvement is not clear, commentators of the adulatory school have dramatized his role in the events. The realities of his participation were probably more peripheral and ambivalent.

By the summer of 1524, Paracelsus was a settled personage in Salzburg. He had taken up residence near a bath and spa, a convenient location for a physician looking for new patients. Goldammer submits the plausible suggestion that Paracelsus chose Salzburg because it was under the rule of Cardinal Matthäus Lang. 110 An Augsburger by birth, Lang had come to Salzburg from Hohenheim's "second fatherland" of Carinthia, where he had been bishop of Gurk from 1505 until 1519. As the ecclesiastical and secular ruler of Salzburg, the cardinal was wealthy, powerful, and an influential figure in both the Empire and the Church. He was known as a friend of Humanists, hence a potential sponsor for new men. For his part, Hohenheim certainly knew how to stroke the heartstrings of Carinthian local patriotism. Lang might have seemed the ideal candidate for an inaugural and, one could hope, remuneratively obliging dedication of the kind that would grace every major treatise of Paracelsus.

If so, his hopes were tragically misplaced. This plan would go terribly awry, foiled by the events of the Peasants' War which gradually escalated in and around Salzburg, until in the heat of civil strife, people would be compelled to take sides, until even the aspiring young

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man who had come to Salzburg with who knows what sort of ambitious plans would feel compelled to follow suitprobably against his original intentionby raising his voice to his harshest pronouncements denouncing the sacred symbols of established power and sanctity.

By 1524, the rising tides of reform and rebellion had begun to lap around this rock of ecclesiastical and imperial authority. Townspeople in Salzburg objected to Cardinal Lang's luxury and oppressive tax levies, the latest of which covered the expenses from his attendance of the coronation of Charles V. The towns and markets were to pay, while the upper estates were freed from obligation. Lang with his learned cohorts and armed mercenaries demonstrated their martial resolve by appearing in force in the central market of Salzburg. The burghers were forced to submit and swear an oath to desist from any action detrimental to their prince. These were the events of the so-called "Latin War" of 1523, when Lang and his learned councillors drew the rebellious populace up short. The bitterness was still in the air as the new physician set about launching his practice in the city. 111

All the while, word of the new faith was being spread by emissaries, wandering folk preachers. Veterans and refugees of peasant uprisings were arriving in Salzburg from other parts to find employment and comradeship among the local miners. Around the beginning of the year 1525, a preacher from Tirol was tried and convicted of heresy in Lang's diocese. Before he could be incarcerated permanently, he was liberated by the common people. One of their number was arrested and beheaded without a trial on Lang's orders.

By now, the revolution was in progress in Salzburg: miners and townsmen armed themselves and were soon joined by peasants. Lang, his cohorts, and sixty-five loyal members of the nobility ensconsed themselves in the high fortress above the city. They spent the summer under a precarious siege, which was only lifted with extraterritorial assistance. A first relief force met with bloody defeat near Schladming. The popular forces occupying the city ruled with an iron fist.

Sometime during this uprising, Paracelsus fled. A later notarized inventory of the possessions he abandoned in Salzburg indicates that he precipitously departed the city, "in the past uprising" (in der vergangen Aufruhr).112It is possible, if far from certain, that he was interrogated before he entrusted his keys to the mother of his landlord and disappeared. In any case, he left too hastily to pack

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his clothing, but apparently not in such terror that he never expected to return and reclaim his possessions.

Two things should be remembered in evaluating his engagement in these events. First of all, the turmoil of the period was by rights both political or social and doctrinal. It is only our hindsight that separates these two aspects. The revolutionaries in Salzburg could not assail the prince-bishop without impugning both the secular and ecclesiastical systems of sanctification and power that coincided in his office and person. The twenty-four articles representing the popular demands gave absolute authority to their biblical-religious foundation, but went on to detail a comprehensive social and political program with a revolutionary character. 113

At the same time, a second consideration should be kept in mind: the Reformation, like other great popular upheavals, was hardly a monolithic ice flow. It was an event enacted variously in the lives of its innumerable participants and groups. The popular, nonmagisterial "radical reformation" studied by George H. Williams followed eccentric and tangential courses within and alongside what might appear at a distance as the glacial flow of sixteenth-century history.

The evidence of the Salzburg writings indicates that the involvements of Hohenheim were as eccentric and peculiar as the remainder of his life. Judging by his allusions and diatribes, he entered the fray in 1524, in support of embattled doctrines, arguing in defense of the Virgin Mary and the saints. But the evidence suggests that his defense of established doctrines was far too idiosyncratic to meet with the approval of its intended beneficiaries. Representatives of the Church turned against him, and their apparent betrayal pushed him to his diametric opposite. He radically attacked their theology, with the result that he was forced to flee. His polemical writings indicate three phases in Salzburg. During the first, he argued in favor of established positions. During the second, he began to attract criticism, and, in response, articulated his doctrinal views more elaborately, thereby incurring even more critical objections. In the final phase of his involvement, he fulminated against all the symbols of Church authority and all the unjust practices of the secular or clerical rulers. This outburst may well have necessitated his flight to the safer territories of the Upper Rhine.

The first phase is that of the mariological works, including De invocatione Beatae Mariae Virginis, recently made available by Katharina Biegger, and of De Virgine Sancta Theotoca, which was

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published by Staritius in the seventeenth century. 114A defense of the eternity of Mary is not what we expect from a man who is thought to have stood in the forefront of progress, and who was certainly one of the most independent minds of his time. But it must be remembered that such questions were hotly debated before, during, and after the Reformation. Official church theology was challenged, not only by the doctrines of magisterial reformers, but also by varieties of lay piety, some of which now appear more medievally Catholic than the concurrent doctrines of the Church. Scholars have shown that even some of the most radical popular reformers adhered to non-Lutheran or medieval doctrines in their creeds.115 Paracelsus defended and exalted the divinity of the Virgin. Though critical of the cult of the saints, he maintained a lifelong belief in the existence of saintly persons who had the power to effect miracles.116From early childhood at the Swiss pilgrimage site of Einsiedeln, he had no doubt absorbed accounts of wonders and miraculous cures, even while witnessing all the grotesque fraud and venality that accompanied the veneration of Mary and the saints. His credulousness and criticism went hand in hand, in the same way that modern scientific minds are capable of maintaining an absolute faith in empiricism, while criticizing incompetent or fraudulent scientific work.

Politically, the polemics of 1524 reveal a stance that is both conciliatory and ambivalent. A concluding gesture of the Liber de Sancta Trinitate (September 1524) admonishes those to whom it is addressed that the Holy Spirit does not want the "senseless wars" (unnütze krieg)of those who "contend with such violence over heaven, each head according to its own opinion" (so gewaltig umb den himmel streitt, ein ieglicher kopf nach seinem sinnII,3:265). Similar in tone and theme, De Invocatione Beatae Mariae Virginis concludes by admonishing its readers to desist from their false teachings concerning the humanity of the Virgin Mary: the false doctrines of their "four or six teachers" have been "fabricated only from the natural light, and not from the baptism of the Holy Spirit" (allein aus dem natürlichen liecht gedicht, und nicht aus dem tauff des h. geists).117But in the Liber de Sancta Trinitate of September 1524, the lay theologian is defending himself on two fronts: the tract begins by referring back to an earlier conversation or colloquium in which his interlocutors have accused him of a position counter to the Roman Church (das alles, ir meldet, der römischen kirchen soll zuwider seinII,3:235-236). He denies having made statements to

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his interlocutors that were "heretical" in the understanding of the trinity (wie ich gegen euch etwas ketzerisch soll

geredt haben in meinem verstand der trinitet halben

contending against those who oppose the veneration of Mary, has embroiled himself in a dispute with the representatives of orthodoxy, and that he is addressing his "book" to the men of the Church in order to dispel the threat of anathema hanging over him.

Though the tract is intended to resolve this controversy by explaining his view of the trinity, it can only have made matters immeasurably worse. The commentary of Goldammer observes that the trinitarian doctrine articulated by Hohenheim in this context contradicts the theological mainstream of Christianitywith the conclusion that its author either fell prey to a misunderstanding or was influenced by traditions of some other kind. This might seem to imply that the tract was only a fluke or aberration. In fact, however, there is reason to suggest that this early writing on the trinity takes us as close as we can come to the seminal reasoning that led to the mature theories of Paracelsus.

Paracelsus's early interpretation of the trinity translates the inconceivable mystery of a God eternally three in one and one in three into his common sense world of natural entities:

.II,3:235). It is clear from this that Hohenheim, even while

In order that I instruct you how I understand the trinity,

God was in the beginning alone, without any

beginning and not in three persons, alone one God, who was not called either God the Father, God the Son, [nor] God the Holy Spirit, or all three together. But rather God the Allmighty Creator and Destroyer of all was one God, one being, one divinity, one countenance, one person and no one with him. And [he] remained so long alone until it pleased him to wed and increase himself, and reveal himself.

Damit aber ich euch undterricht, wie ich die trinitet erkennen,

allen anfang und nit in drei personen, allein ein gott, der nit geheißen hat weder gott der vatter, gott der sun, gott der heilig geist oder all drei miteinander. sonder gott der allmechtig schöpfer und der zerbrecher aller ding ist gewest ein gott, ein wesen, ein gottheit, ein gesicht, ein person und niemandts bei ihme. und ist also lang allein blieben, bis ihm

gott ist anfenglich allein gewesen; ohn

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geliebt hat zu vermählen, sich zu mehren, sich zu erzeigen. (II,3:238)

What is truly striking here is not so much the radical deviation from Christian doctrinal orthdoxy, nor the childishly absolute faith in certain biblical teachings, but rather the combination of doctrinal deviation with childlike faith:

What is abstract and unimaginable in doctrine has been cast aside. What is picturable in images reflecting the world of natural entities is absolute. This remarkable combination lends sublime doctrine the quality of a folk fairy tale, as if he were recounting how a lonesome God once upon a time decided to couple, to multiply himself into three, and to reveal himself (sich zu erzeigen)through this increase. The sublime mystery of three in one is resolved genealogically: the three inherit the same power and force because the one has given rise to the three: "which has caused him to divide into three persons, into three kinds, into three beings, into three properties. Which all flows

from one divinity in three streams

wesen, in drei eigenschaft. welches alles fleußt aus der gottheit an drei strümen

three persons of the trinity, another person is called for in order to complete this scheme: "From the beginning of

the number of the trinity God has first become double, that is, two persons in one person der trinitet ist erstlich gott selb ander geworden, das ist zwo personen in einer person

Paracelsus does not intend to break the number of the trinity, any more than he deliberately sets out to undermine the Christian doctrine of one God in three eternal persons; in either case, he wants to avoid heterodoxy by means of further devices and considerations, though these could only have made his views all the more redolent of heresy to theologians. Far from any deliberate heresy, he intends to confirm the ineffable things of faith by projecting them into the realm of the palpable entities. Time in the Volumen Paramirum, we recall, was the succession of distinct entities, slated to end when the generation of distinct beings would be exhausted. The "time of the trinity" amounts to the division into three persons whose revelation is successive:

." (das ihn geursacht hat, sich zu teilen in drei person, in drei art, in drei

.II,3:239). In addition to the

(Von anfang der zahl .II,3:244). Evidently,

Inasmuch now as time has a beginning in the number of the trinity, that is, that [the divine persons] have divided them-

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